There has been a lot of talk about improving the nation's aging power infrastructure, some stemming from President Barack Obama's plan to provide incentives for energy upgrades and "smart-grid" technology to boost the economy.
So, what's a smart grid and what does it mean for you?
A smart grid would turn our energy system into an interactive network connecting power stations, meters and home appliances. Utility companies would be able to collect real-time information about demand and supply to avoid blackouts, repair problems and get consumers to conserve. Some companies are already on board.
Electricity providers have been installing meters they can read remotely. Exelon
Demand is expected to grow twice as fast as capacity in the coming years, according to the North American Electric Reliability Corp. Our consumption already outpaces that of other Western nations on a per capita basis. Studies show that being able to track power usage typically leads consumers to cut back by 5% to 15%.