Before last week, IBM’s recent successful implementation of the complete infrastructure for a smart grid throughout the Mediterranean island country of Malta may have seemed distant and even irrelevant for Americans.

That could of course never happen here!

But when the White House announced this Monday that is was planning to forge ahead with smart grid plans for the United States, the smart grid experiment on the tiny island of Malta suddenly became the most important model for Americans.

Like the Maltese workers depicted above, who are installing a PLC Concentrator in a low voltage substation, Daniela Lapidous & Shreya Indukuri, now juniors at the Harker Upper School in San Jose, California, applied for a grant and successfully implemented a smart sub-metering system in their school.

At the White House press event this week they spoke of their successes and of discovering that air conditioners and lights were running all weekend without anyone’s knowledge. With careful monitoring of the meters, the girls were able to help their school save thousands of dollars and many MW of electrical power.

“Essentially, such a system gives the school access to a live data feed of its energy use, per building, at any hour of the day,” the girls wrote on their website,

Like the dashboard system Daniela and Shreya installed in their school, the IBM smart grid system is interactive, and even allows consumers to engage with data and change their electricity use in real-time.

This smartphone application is linked with radio frequency for maximized engagement. It literally allows consumers to manage energy use from their smart phones.

Imagine, midsummer, noticing on your phone that your air-conditioner is still running. And, because everyone is running their air-conditioning, you are paying exorbitant rates for that wasted power.

As predicted, these tools allowed Malta residents to dramatically reduce energy use. The following graph shows how power use changed after the implementation of smart grid technology.

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