A NEMA (The Association of Electrical and Medical Imaging Equipment Manufacturers) task force moved closer to creating an electricity supply chain that can correlate the ever-changing demand and supply of electricity nationwide. The concept, called the Smart Grid, would begin with power generation and end with the ultimate use of the power, such as the exchange of information from a power plant to a substation to your home. As part of this process, the task force defined five levels of intelligence in the electricity supply chain.

The levels of intelligence range from “dumb” appliances (level 0), such as old water heaters that maintain a constant temperature, to level 5, where power suppliers and systems share supply-and-demand information across a continent. The concept is critical to future energy management and conservation because it will enable electricity producers to anticipate peak load times or ensure power is delivered as needed based on fluctuating demands, i.e., delivering more power to a downtown area during the day and cutting available power to that area at night. The ability to anticipate how much and where electricity is needed is of particular importance, since there is no large scale storage capacity for electricity — supply and demand needs to be balanced at all times.

For more information on the Smart Grid, visit www.nema.org/levelsofintelligence.