Out of the Stone Age and Into the Smart Age: Energy & Technology

Electricity itself hasn’t necessarily changed over time. The
energy generated today can still power the light bulb invented by Thomas Edison nearly 140 years ago. However, the way Michiganders receive that
electricity now could not be more different.

Energy goes on quite a journey before it reaches your home or workplace. Power plants generate electricity, a transformer then increases the voltage of that energy for transmission.  Transmission lines carry that electricity for long distances until it reaches its destination. Once there, another transformer decreases the electricity’s voltage, making it safe to travel to homes and businesses through distribution lines. Power must slowly decrease voltage as it travels so that it remains safe even as it powers today’s complex and delicate devices, ultimately reaching just the right voltage as it enters your home or business. Grid engineers are not only tasked with balancing our state’s energy needs with the amount of power available, but also with ensuring that power is delivered in more efficient, more calibrated ways.  

Michigan’s local energy providers are embracing new
technology to better balance this supply and demand, making investments to help
transform Michigan’s electric infrastructure to a “smart grid,” including Advanced Metering Infrastructure, or smart meters. This innovative technology can collect information on energy usage faster and more accurately. This knowledge is then put to good use through the grid’s
computer control network. Two-way digital communication means an energy
provider’s network operations center can “talk” with devices in the field while
automated technology allows remote control of those same devices.


But how does the smart grid benefit the typical energy

Just as the introduction of electric power gave people many
more choices about how they work and play each day, the smart grid is now
giving people choices they’ve never had before about how and when to use energy
to power our increasingly connected lives.


We’ve come a long way from Edison lighting up his laboratory
with the first light bulb to the way we harness energy today. And we’ve still
got a long way to go. But thanks to smart meters and the other technological
innovations that make up today’s smart electric grid, we’re realizing the full
potential of Edison’s original invention.