Former Director of the CIA James Woolsey recently described the U.S. electricity transmission system as ODAV: Ostrich-Designed and Awesomely Vulnerable.
Four challenges stand out: (1) Teaching consumers how to take advantage of the Smart Grid’s capabilities; (2) Making the Smart Grid safe from cyber attacks while keeping it open at both the distributor and ratepayer ends to allow utilities and consumers the interactive opportunities necessary to streamline energy use, (3) Building a nationwide network of interactivity that is based on a single set of interoperable technical standards, and (4) Providing for the transmission of electricity from the full spectrum of sources efficiently.
Sounds like an open-source approach would work well here. Don’t make it proprietary, let everyone work on the software and hardware, use the best of it, and make it free. Much of the net runs on open source code (Apache, Php, Linux, MySQL) so let’s do the same for a smart grid too.