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'smart Grid' Power Lines Move Into the Digital Age


GE Energy Vice President Robert Gilligan

"It's the marriage of information technology and automation technology with the existing electricity network," says GE Energy Vice President Robert Gilligan.

Credit: Select Committee on Energy
Independence and Global Warming

Thomas Alva Edison, meet the Internet. More than a century after Edison invented a reliable light bulb, the nation's electricity distribution system, an aging spider web of power lines, is poised to move into the digital age. The "smart grid" has become the buzz of the electric power industry, at the White House and among members of Congress.

What smart grid visionaries see coming are home thermostats and appliances that adjust automatically depending on the cost of power; where utilities get instant feedback on a transformer outage, shift easily among energy sources, and go into homes and businesses to automatically adjust power use based on prearranged agreements. "It's the marriage of information technology and automation technology with the existing electricity network. This is the energy Internet," said Bob Gilligan, vice president for transmission at GE Energy, which is aggressively pursuing smart grid development.

From The Associated Press
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