America's Energy Choice

What is "Smart Grid"?


What is "Smart Grid"?

Posted by Del Hilber on February 07, 2013

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Consumers are mostly puzzled when they hear the term “smart grid.” According to Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative’s (SGCC) latest ‘State of the Consumer Report’, approximately 75% of consumers either have never heard the term smart grid or don’t know what it means (Source: SmartGridNews).

Since Constellation is active in supporting smart grid advancement, we’re offering some information about the topic and how it can best be leveraged to benefit your business.

The U.S. Department of Energy states that smart grid “generally refers to a class of technology people are using to bring utility electricity delivery systems into the 21st century, using computer-based remote control and automation.” At its basic level, smart grid is a sophisticated array of tools and technologies that allow businesses and consumers to make better decisions about their energy usage while simultaneously providing usage data back to the electrical grid, which makes the overall grid more efficient and reliable.

Traditionally, utilities measure electricity usage by sending workers out into the field to record data from the end user’s meter. This process is relatively outdated and inefficient. In contrast, the smart grid allows automatic retrieval of meter data and remote notification if a meter is down or not working properly.

In line with the growing support of smart grid, Constellation has created a web-based application called VirtuWatt™. VirtuWatt puts users in control of their energy strategy, delivering the promise of smart grid and direct access to energy markets. The application allows customers in a Load Response program to better visualize grid conditions and their energy usage so that they can make more informed energy management decisions and even automate Load Response participation. Additionally, our latest solution, VirtuWatt™ Link, utilizes the smart grid by using a user’s facilities’ existing automation systems to manage load curtailment based on energy market signals and pre-set strategies, without needing to install proprietary building controls hardware. By packaging grid and usage data for users, building managers are able to experience the following benefits from this smart grid technology:

  • Real-time tracking and historic usage data across multiple facilities and regions
  • Compare current usage to program targets
  • Monitor total grid load and pricing per zone
  • Bid in to Economic and Ancillary Load Response Programs
  • Adjust settings of building lights, thermostats and more (in conjunction with a building automation system)


If you’d like to learn more about smart grid or Constellation’s Load Response solutions, feel free to contact us at!

Del Hilber

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