Smart Grid Lesson 1: The smart grid will be mostly invisible to consumers.
Most of the “smart” things the new grid will do are beyond the view of customers. One person at Distributech in February said consumers won’t even know “if we do it right.” Performance and efficiency boosters that keep the lights on but are unseen include active network management (find and fix problems), automatic voltage control (maintain with targets), dynamic line rating (line capacities calculated considering weather), reactive power consumption (automatically offsetting heavy loads), and phasor measurement units (high-tech sensors that monitor lots of network performance variables in realtime).
Also beyond consumer view, but felt by the industry, many of the business relationships and regulatory regimes that have existed for decades are due for a major overhaul. Barriers between generators and distributors will have to be lowered or broken down to pave the way for widespread adoption of large- and micro-scale alternative energy sources. New partnerships, coalitions, and alliances will emerge as the boundaries between the various sectors of the utility industry blur with the new “information age.”