"A smarter, modernized, and expanded grid will be pivotal to the United States' world leadership in a clean energy future. This policy framework focuses on the deployment of information and communications technologies in the electricity sector. As they are developed and deployed, these smart grid technologies and applications will bring new capabilities to utilities and their customers. In tandem with the development and deployment of high-capacity transmission lines, which is a topic beyond the scope of this report, smart grid technologies will play an important role in supporting the increased use of clean energy. A 21st century clean energy economy demands a 21st century grid. Much of the traditional electricity infrastructure has changed little from the original design and form of the electric grid as envisioned by Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse at the end of the 19th century. In a 21st century grid, smart grid technologies will help integrate more variable renewable sources of electricity, including both utility scale generation systems such as large wind turbines and distributed generation systems such as rooftop solar panels, in addition to facilitating the greater use of electric vehicles and energy storage. Moreover, such technologies will help enable utilities to manage stresses on the grid, such as peak demand, and pass savings on to consumers as a result. The evolution towards a 21st century grid is already taking place. With the Recovery Act investment of $4.5 billion for electricity delivery and energy reliability modernization efforts, the promise of a smarter grid is becoming a reality."
The White House: http://www.whitehouse.gov/