While the transmission system delivers high-voltage electricity from generators to substations, the distribution system reduces the voltage and then delivers the electricity to retail customers. In addition to substations, the distribution system includes substations, wires, poles, metering, billing, and related support systems involved in the retail side of electricity delivery.
Today, America’s electric companies are making significant investments in the distribution systems that carry electricity to customers. In fact, since the beginning of 2000, the industry has invested $237 billion (2011 $) in the nation’s distribution system.
As electric companies invest in distribution system upgrades and enhancements, they are focusing on new technologies to help them meet the increased demands of our digital society and to communicate more effectively with their customers. The increased capital expenditures on distribution are helping companies to ramp up the development of automated metering infrastructure (AMI), which includes new communications networks and database systems that will enhance our nation’s electric grid and ultimately create a smart grid.