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1 Smart Grid Is a Lot More than Just "Te... > The Path to the Smart Grid - Pg. 22

22 PART | I Setting the Context evidenced by companies like Google, IBM, Cisco, and others finding new markets in the power sector. Gadgets that are commonplace for communication and entertainment can also inform us about options for reducing our electricity use. Availability of information on consumer use will also allow utilities to ana- lyze and segment users to better frame service and price offerings. 9 Some pre- dict that hundreds of market segments will emerge with unique and highly customized requirements--and hence highly customized products and services. No longer would residential consumers be viewed as one generic and homoge- neous market. Rather, one can imagine consumers being differentiated, for example, by whether one has a preponderance of energy-efficient appliances; whether one conducts business at home; or whether one has critical medical devices in the home. The line between commercial consumers and residential consumers may become blurred as homes become more differentiable, like businesses. In the transition to the smart grid, consumers will have the opportunity to move from being passive participants to active, interactive, and even trans- active customers, as their level of sophistication increases. This does not mean that they will be forced to make numerous decisions about energy use, but that they will possess intelligent software that understands their preferences and acts on their behalf. With richer information that is easy to interpret, con-