What is a Smart Grid?

The recently announced Green Energy Act is getting alot of attention.  The development of a “Smart Grid” is frequently mentioned. 

So what exactly is a “Smart Grid”? 

Since the 19th century, the electricity grid has worked in one direction.  It brings power from a generation plant to our homes and businesses.

New technologies now allow for electricity and information to flow both ways in our electricity grid.  The “modern” electricity grid “uses sensors, monitoring, communication, automation, and computers to improve the flexibility, security, reliability, efficiency and safety of the electricity system”.

The new information technology will allow quicker responses to outages.  This will increase the reliability of the system.

A smart grid is also necessary to accommodate renewable energy  into the system.  Wind doesn’t blow all the time nor does the sun shine all day.  So the grid must adapt to the high and lows of power entering the system from wind and solar sources and draw on other sources as needed to match supply with demand.

Electricity will flow both ways in homes where solar energy systems are installed. 

Smart grids will also help consumers make better choices and save money.  With smart meters we will be able to choose to do our laundry or use our dishwasher at a time of day when the cost of electricity is lower because demand is low.  This is good for the consumer.  It also reduces demand on the entire system during traditional peak periods. 

A smart grid is also necessary to implement Guelph’s Community Energy Plan so it is welcome news to us that the Province of Ontario is moving forward with its implementation.  We are fortunate that Guelph Hydro Electric Systems is well positioned to transition to a smart grid system.

About Karen Farbridge

An unwavering change maker seeking a just, democratic and sustainable world.

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3 Comments on “What is a Smart Grid?”

  1. Matt Shacklady Says:

    I am all for smart grids. They are a critical first step in combating climate change.

    Thanks for publicising this, and being behind it. I think there is an amazing opportunity for Guelph Hydro and Guelph residents to be leaders in this field!

  2. PNM Says:

    When is the “smart grid” metering device going to be installed in residential houses in Guelph.?
    Thank you

  3. ksulliva Says:

    Guelph Hydro has advised me that smart meters will be installed on all residential homes starting in the fall of 2009 and through 2010. They anticipate that time-of-use (TOU) rates will be implemented in the second half of 2010 through 2011.


    Kate Sullivan
    Mayor’s Office

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