A modern electric grid offers utilities and consumers wide-ranging new opportunities. Investments made through The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act) helped catalyze the transition to a modern grid by providing the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) with $4.5 billion to advance the deployment of smart grid technologies. This investment, leveraged with equivalent funding from the electricity industry, has helped utilities acquire and deploy technologies that enable a more intelligent electricity delivery system, including more than 15 million smart meters, 20,000 substation monitors, and 1,000 new synchrophasors.
The large-scale deployment of smart meters and supporting technology through these projects is now enabling utilities to explore new consumer-facing programs and service offerings. Consumers, in turn, have many more choices about how they purchase electricity and manage their energy use. Prepaid utility service - which allows consumers to pay in advance for their electricity - is one area where these changes converge.