Editor's Note: We are happy to feature this interview with Sonita Lontoh and Christine Hertzog, two of our favourite regular TEC contributors who also happen to be two of the worlds best thinkers on the Smart Grid future. Enjoy!

What is the smart grid? 

According to a definition by the Department of Energy (DOE), the "smart grid" generally refers to a class of technology people are using to bring utility electricity delivery systems into the 21st century, using computer-based remote control and automation. These systems are made possible by two-way communication technology and computer processing that has been used for decades in other industries. They are beginning to be used on electricity networks, from the power plants and wind farms all the way to the consumers of electricity in homes and businesses.

Why do we need the smart grid?

Energy providers and society are under increasing pressure to deal with supply limitations, environmental mandates, intermittent renewables, and changing demand with the growing popularity of plug-in electric vehicles, distributed generation, and consumers’ desire to use energy more efficiently. 

The smart grid offers many benefits to energy providers and consumers -- enhanced energy efficiency, improved grid reliability, better operational efficiencies, and the integration of renewables and distributed energy resources such as solar panels and electric vehicles.

How can the smart grid deliver all these benefits?

The Silicon Valley Technology Arts & Sustainability TV interviewed Sonita Lontoh of Trilliant and Christine Hertzog of the Smart Grid Library to explore the benefits of the smart grid and the challenges and lessons learned in making the smart grid a reality around the world.

Silicon Valley TV Interview from Sonita Lontoh on Vimeo.

Heather Durham, Executive Producer, Silicon Valley Technology Arts & Sustainability (reporter)

Christine Hertzog, Managing Director, Smart Grid Library

Christine Hertzog is a consultant, author, and a professional explainer focused on Smart Grid technologies and solutions. She provides strategic advisory services to startups and established companies that include corporate development, market development, and funding strategies. She is the author of the Smart Grid Dictionary, now in its 3rd Edition, the first and only dictionary that explains the jargon, acronyms, and terminology, and now available in English and Chinese. She is the co-author of The Smart Grid Consumer Focus Strategy, which identifies consumer/utility challenges and how to improve consumer engagement initiatives. She has two decades of experience working with hardware, software, and services companies that range from small start-ups to multi-national corporations, and has recently been involved in the National Institute of Standards (NIST) initiative on Smart Grid Cyber Security and Interoperability standards requirements with a focus on privacy. She is an advisor to several Smart Grid startups, and serves on the Advisory Boards of The Energy Collective, ElectricityPolicy.com, and ZPryme. Based in Silicon Valley, she is a regular presenter at industry conferences and blogs about a wide range of Smart Grid-related topics.

Sonita Lontoh, Head of Corporate Marketing, Trilliant

Sonita Lontoh is the head of corporate marketing at Trilliant, a venture-backed smart grid company in Silicon Valley. She is a clean/green technology expert recognized on Wikipedia and is a frequent speaker and contributor on energy, clean tech, and women leadership topics for publications such as FORBES, FORTUNE, CNN, MIT Review, etc. Sonita joined Trilliant from Grid Net, a clean tech company in San Francisco. Prior to that, she  was a leader at PG&E Corporation, a Fortune 200 energy company with assets of more than $45 billion, serving more than 15 million customers in California, where she was involved with many of the company’s strategic initiatives, including its carbon, renewable and smart energy technology solutions. Earlier in her career, Sonita spent a few years as a technology entrepreneur including co-founding a successful online game company serving the Greater China region and a stint in management consulting with Bain & Company. She earned her MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and her Master of Engineering from MIT, where she was also cross-registered at the Harvard Business School. Sonita holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Engineering and Operations Research from UC Berkeley. Follow Sonita on Twitter @slontoh.