The smart grid is a centerpiece of the new national energy policy, helping consumers save energy, take advantage of sustainable energy choices and create new jobs in the green economy.

Michael Niggli, chief operations officer of SDG&E, said: “Realizing the benefits of the smart grid is more than just a high-tech experiment. SDG&E was the first utility in the continental US to agree to generate 33% of our electricity from renewable resources by 2020, and the smart grid will help pave the way to this goal and develop a more sustainable energy future for all of us.”

Lisa Bicker, president of CleanTECH San Diego, said: “Greater interaction among all the stakeholders is essential to the success of the smart grid. By leveraging San Diego’s strong history of collaboration we will enable new products, services and markets to fuel an economic engine in San Diego and beyond. In addition, we will bring new clean technology jobs and export opportunities to our region.”

As reported, the smart grid incorporates every aspect of a modern energy system – renewable energy generation, electric transmission and distribution technologies, smart metering and energy storage. The technology also seeks to help utility customers play a role in not only the consumption of energy, but the production of it, as well.

The federal government has dedicated more than $4.5 billion to smart grid development as part of the economic stimulus package and the San Diego coalition is seeking $100m of those funds for the project.

The coalition will, in part, create a community-scale utility system within the region that could interconnect greater percentages of renewable generation at both the distribution- and transmission-system levels, store electricity and use automated sensors and communication technologies to help manage the intermittent energy resources.