Our electrical grid is aging and teetering on collapse. Worst of all, it can’t handle the energy coming from rapidly proliferating solar and wind plants. The technology du jour that promises to solve our problems is the “smart grid”–an electrical grid that delivers energy using digital technology like the smart meter to cut costs, save energy, and increase reliability. The US government is so convinced that smart grids are the future that it set aside $11 billion towards electrical grid upgrades in last moth’s economic stimulus bill
AT&T is the most recent corporation to get in on the smart grid action by striking a deal with smart meter company SmartSynch to act as a communication platform between individual meters and over 100 North American utilities.
As a result of the partnership, smart meter networks will move closer to being based on an open standard instead of proprietary protocols since SmartSynch relies on public wireless networks for machine to machine communication. AT&T’s commitment to creating a communications platform may also help convince skeptical utilities to invest in smart meters–if they don’t have to construct their own expensive communications network, there are few reasons not to deploy the technology.
AT&T isn’t the only major player to invest in the smart grid in recent months. Google’s PowerMeter program will allow consumers to view energy consumption (courtesy of smart meters) in near real-time in via iGoogle.