The smart grid is a combination of utilities with computing technology. In the case of electricity, a smart grid allows renewable energy sources to be deployed more effectively, including decentralized power generation. The current US electric grid dates back to 1896.
Smart meters on a smart grid allows utility companies to monitor customers' utilities remotely, implement variable-pricing schemes, or disconnect customers remotely.
The US Department of Energy has expressed interest in smart grids, and it has featured in government stimulus spending. Smart grid initiatives affect utilities, manufacturers of smart grid equipment, and to a lesser extent utility customers.
IBM and GE are working with smart grid technology. Some wireless networking companies such as Tropos have also expressed interest in providing connectivity and security to smart grid communications.