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Sacramento starts smart electrical grid

This week, the Sacramento Municipal Utility District is set to take its first step toward what promises to be the most significant development in electricity in a century: the "smart" grid.

Thursday, the SMUD board is scheduled to approve a 30-month rollout of 620,000 meters for the Internet age. Instead of today's "dumb" odometer-style counters, the devices will be brainy hubs in a new electrical nervous system that promises to save money and power and foster the next tech boom.

"The electrical system right now looks a lot like it did when Westinghouse and Edison were alive," said Steve Hauser, a vice president at the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory. "Once you get these systems in place, it's like the Internet in that it sets a foundation for an explosion of innovation."

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