According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s Annual Energy Outlook 2022 (AEO2022), electricity use in the United States is expected to slowly grow over the next three decades. Annual growth in total electricity demand is projected to average 1% from 2021 through 2050 [1], driven by the increasing adoption of electric-powered technologies, such as digital and computerized equipment, electric appliances and robots, and electric passenger and commercial vehicles.

The current system for electricity generation and transmission, referred to as “the electric grid” or just “the grid,” is an ecosystem made up of electricity producers (producing from fossil or renewable energy sources – including nuclear), transmission lines, substations, transformers, and the consumers of electricity. While this system has been improved periodically as technology advanced, the Department of Energy and other grid ecosystem players have acknowledged that the time for “patchwork” efforts has ended. To meet the nation’s energy, environmental, and security goals, a new kind of electric grid, “one that is built from the bottom up to handle the groundswell of digital and computerized equipment and technology dependent on it — and one that can automate and manage the increasing complexity and needs of electricity in the 21st Century” is critical. [2]

This “smart grid” will be a more efficient infrastructure that incorporates the use of two-way communication technologies, modernized sensing and control systems, and updated computer processing to enhance the reliability, security, and efficiency of electric power transmission. [3]


Benefits of the smart grid include:

  • More efficient electricity transmission
  • Quicker restoration of electric service after power outages
  • Lower operations and management costs for utility providers, resulting in lower costs to consumers
  • Reduced peak demand, resulting in lower costs to consumers
  • Improved integration of customer-owned power generation systems
  • Improved integration of both large-scale and customer-owned renewable power generation systems – enabling the transition to low-carbon energy sources and away from the consumption of oil
  • Enhanced security against possible threats to the nation’s power system [4]

Ultimately, transitioning to a smart grid will increase electric power reliability, affordability, and efficiency, while reducing America’s carbon footprint and protecting the grid from cyber attacks.

DOE Office of Electricity

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Electricity (OE) leads the nation’s smart grid efforts, through its three divisions:

  • Advanced Grid Research and Development Division, which invests in next-generation technologies and tools that will improve the security and resilience of the nation’s energy infrastructure.
  • Electricity Delivery Division (EDD), which is laying the framework for a modern electricity system by contributing to the development and implementation of electricity policy at the Federal and State level.
  • Electricity Delivery Cybersecurity Research and Development Division, missioned to strengthen electricity infrastructure against cyber-related threats and mitigate vulnerabilities aligned with OE’s R&D programs. [5]

These OE divisions work closely with the private and public sectors, including industry, academia, national labs, and other federal and state agencies to develop next generation electric grid technologies and tools.

Updated by Peter Matos, December 2023