The future success of improving our nations energy conservation depends as much on the improved technology of delivering energy as producing the energy from cleaner sources. While the latter gets the majority of the attention in the press, improving the delivery aspect of electricity will allow us to waste less energy as we find better solutions in dividing demand requirements across the grid.
Electricity is a unique commodity as currently we have no way to store it. When electricity is produced by resources (coal, natural gas, wind) it must immediately be transmitted and distributed to its destination. While at any given time, not every household and building is using the maximum amount of electricity that they can, the grid must account for the fact that at any second that can change and light switches can go from off to on.
A smarter grid will give us more and better information to know where energy is needed at specific times so that the energy can be better distributed leading to less wasted energy and a reduction in production. It is estimated that 7% of all energy produced disappears as it is transmitted throughout the grid. With smarter grids this number can be greatly reduced as the energy produced will have a more direct purpose and destination.