Cisco, Microsoft, IBM, Google — it seems everyone is in the smart-grid fray, trying to transform our electromechanical power grid into a digital network that saves energy, taps alternative sources, lowers costs, and boosts reliability. But Boulder is the first U.S. city to pilot a large-scale smart-grid system, allowing residents to monitor use and control appliances remotely. Xcel Energy has installed 21,000 meters since the $100 million program started in 2008. Early adopters cut energy use by as much as 45%.
A version of this article appeared in the May 2010 issue of Fast Company magazine.