Smart Grid Glossary


Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI): Advanced Metering Infrastructure is another term for smart meters—electricity meters that automatically measure and record usage data at regular intervals and provide the data to consumers and energy companies at least once daily. The opposite is Automated Meter Reading (AMR)—meters that collect data for billing purposes only and transmit this data one way, usually from the customer to the distribution utility.

Automated Meter Reading (AMR): Automated meter reading (AMR) is a technology used in utility meters for collecting the data that's needed for billing purposes. AMR, which works by translating the movement of the mechanical dials on a meter into a digital signal, does not require physical access or visual inspection. The data can be transmitted from the meter to the utility company by telephone, power line, satellite, cable or radio frequency.


Distribution automation: Distribution Automation (DA) is a family of technologies including sensors, processors, communication networks and switches that can perform a number of distribution system functions depending on how they are implemented. Over the last 20 years, utilities have been applying DA to improve reliability, service quality and operational efficiency. More recently, DA is being applied to perform automatic switching, reactive power compensation coordination and other feeder operations/control.

Distributed generation: Distributed generation (DG) refers to power generation at the point of consumption. Generating power on-site, rather than centrally, eliminates the cost, complexity, interdependencies, and inefficiencies associated with transmission and distribution. Like distributed computing (i.e. the PC) and distributed telephony (i.e. the mobile phone), distributed generation shifts control to the consumer.

Demand response: Demand response refers to the capability of smart grid technologies to allow for reductions in electricity use targeted at times when demand is highest. These peak reductions can reduce the strain placed on the electrical grid and decrease the need for high-cost generation resources. Consumers participating in demand response activities are compensated for the service. When a utility issues a call for demand response, consumers do not have to take an action; the utility can simply send a signal to smart-capable appliances that take action based on pre-programmed consumer preferences.

Demand-side management: The term for all activities or programs undertaken by Load-Serving Entity or its customers to influence the amount or timing of electricity they use.

Dynamic pricing: Dynamic pricing refers to the family of rates that offer customers time-varying electricity prices on a day-ahead or real-time basis.


Electric grid: A network of synchronized power providers and consumers that are connected by transmission and distribution lines and operated by one or more control centers. When most people talk about the power "grid," they're referring to the transmission system for electricity.


Home Area Network (HAN): A communication network within the home of a residential electricity customer that allows transfer of information between electronic devices, including, but not limited to, in-home displays, computers, energy management devices, direct load control devices, distributed energy resources, and smart meters. Home area networks can be wired or wireless.


Kilowatt hour (kWH): A kilowatt hour is the amount of energy you get from one kilowatt for one hour. Electricity use over time is measured in kilowatt hours. Your electric company measures how much electricity you use in kilowatt hours, abbreviated "kWh". A kilowatt is a unit of power equal to 1000 watts.


Load: The amount of electric power delivered or required at any specific point or points on a system. The requirement originates at the energy-consuming equipment of the consumers.


On-peak hours: Those hours or other periods defined by NAESB business practices, contract, agreements, or guides as periods of higher electrical demand.

Off-peak hours: Those hours or other periods defined by NAESB business practices, contract, agreements, or guides as periods of lower electrical demand.

Outage: The period during which a generating unit, transmission line, or other facility is out of service.


Peak load: The maximum load during a specified period of time.

Peaker plant/peak load plant: A plant usually housing old, low-efficiency steam units, gas turbines, diesels, or pumped-storage hydroelectric equipment normally used during the peak-load periods.


Smart cities: A city that harnesses digital technology and intelligent design to create a sustainable city where services are seamless, efficient and provide for a high quality of life for citizens.

Smart devices: Typically an electronic device, generally connected to other devices or networks via different protocols such as Bluetooth, NFC, WiFi, 3G, etc., that can operate to some extent interactively and autonomously.

Smart grid: The “grid” refers to our nation’s electric power infrastructure. Smart grid is the application of information technology, tools and techniques like smart meters, sensors, real-time communications, software and remote-controlled equipment to improve grid reliability and efficiency.

Smart home: The integration of a smart meter along with Wi-Fi enabled appliances, lighting and other devices that conveniently changes the way a family interacts with its home and optimizes home energy consumption.

Smart meter: Smart meters, a common form of smart grid technology, are digital meters that replace the old analog meters used in homes to record electrical usage. Digital meters can transmit energy consumption information back to the utility on a much more frequent schedule than analog meters, which require a meter reader to transmit information.


Time of use pricing: Time-of-use pricing (TOU) typically applies to usage over broad blocks of hours (e.g., on-peak=6 hours for summer weekday afternoon; off-peak= all other hours in the summer months) where the price for each period is predetermined and constant.


Variable peak pricing: Variable Peak Pricing (VPP) is a hybrid of time-of-use and real-time pricing where the different periods for pricing are defined in advance (e.g., on-peak=6 hours for summer weekday afternoon; off-peak= all other hours in the summer months), but the price established for the on-peak period varies by utility and market conditions.

Interested in the Latest Smart Grid News?

Sign up for our monthly e-newsletter and receive new information on the smart grid, technologies and benefits for you.

We 100% guarantee we will not share your email with anyone.

or skip