Brilliant minds—Nikola Tesla, Thomas A. Edison—and great engineers produced the marvel of the electric grid. It has united and fed the vast complex that is modern industrial and post-industrial society. But like the Scarecrow in Oz, the grid lacks a brain. Advances in electronics, communication and information technology now are enabling engineers to give the grid a brain. In the last decade, grassroots initiatives have sprung up around the country to create what has come to be called the smart grid. In a smart grid, sensors can anticipate system disturbances and respond to them before they cripple the system. Communication
The market is generally healthy and steadily growing, and margins are up for large specialty contractors. Further, advances in design tools and owner demand for collaboration are giving subcontractors a seat at the table early on in projects.