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--Our current energy grid suffers from a lack of communication and shared information.  Demand response is one solution that is transforming the energy industry.

For the past few decades, our nation's infrastructure has struggled to keep up with the exponentially rising energy demand.  The rise in demand is mostly due to our growing dependence on technology, and as businesses turn to new technology, they rely on the energy grid to support their business more than anything.  Energy is something that consumers generally take for granted, but since the blackouts in 2003 we have realized how economically devastating loss of power can be.

The object of demand response is to reduce the demand from the grid during peak hours.  Peak demand refers to the hours of the day when most people are home from work, cooking dinner, or watching TV.  In the United States, peak demand would usually be between the hours of 6 pm and 9 pm.  Demand response groups take this into consideration, and gather regional consumption data with the support of larger corporations that conduct energy intensive operations.  The idea is for these companies to coordinate and shift operations when possible to lower peak demands.  Energy costs are higher when the demand peaks; so when power plants don't have to work as hard they are not only saving carbon emissions, but the consumers are also saving money.

Residential demand response groups work a little bit differently.  Overall, promoting awareness of when peak demand is and that reducing non-essential power loads during peak hours can save money is the focus of most groups and services.  More effectively, this idea has been churning into technological advances in smart grid technology.  A smart grid refers to the communication and sharing of real-time information between the residential and commercial consumers and the utilities that provide the power.  In general, the current grid tells the utilities how much power it produces at any given moment; which dictates the price of energy along with other involved operational costs. 

Essentially, a smart grid would consist of networked sensors at the power plant's substations providing power to certain sub regions and at each consumer's utility meter.  When the smart grid knows who is consuming energy where and when, everyone benefits.  The utility can adjust output to sub regions that need more power while borrowing it from others that do not need as much at that time without increasing overall production.  The consumers, both residential and commercial, can access this information from the internet and other networked smart grid tools in order to respond accordingly; a business shifting operations, and a consumer understanding when to run the dishwasher or turn their computer off if their not using it.  This is the culmination of what demand response groups are trying to orchestrate, and the benefits are universally invaluable.

It will be interesting to see the smart grid industry develop and how many other industries may need to adjust their product development to be compatible with the smart grid.