Smart grid can improve reliability in many ways, such as giving operators an enhanced view and more control of the system so they can detect and mitigate faults. It enhances efficiencies by reducing power line losses in transmission and distribution networks, providing more efficient voltage control, and lowering energy consumption in individual buildings. Smart grid will give consumers choices on when, how and at what price to use electricity. Smart grid can help integrate variable renewable resources, such as wind and solar, by increasing or decreasing load, in real time, based on the needs of the system.
Smart grid technology includes a wide range of products from appliances in homes to sensors on transmission lines and upgrades to substations. The integrated nature of the smart grid increases communication and information flow, so smart grid can monitor activities in real time, exchange data about energy supply and demand while modifying power use during times of high load requirements. Smart grid can effectively identify, use and transmit existing load thereby lowering the need for hydro system capacity.
BPA is one of the first agencies to conceptualize smart grid technology under the name Energy Web a decade before the smart grid moniker became common place.