We might still have to wait a while for the Google washing machine—but GE as we know is also a huge player in energy infrastructures, which makes notable their announcement of a partnership with those incessant innovators at Google to modernise our stone-age grid. If (if) we somehow do find ourselves with an administration in January that truly moves forward with forward-thinking energy plans, we don't want to losing a huge percentage of our fresh new juice to our inefficient grid, most parts of which date back to the disco era.
A new smart grid will be able to handle plug-in hybrids in large numbers, increase efficiency, and not be easily toppled by small problems that then cascade into mini-disasters, as was the case in the Northeast blackout in 2003. It will also ensure that power from alternative sources (solar, wind) will be able to be transmitted to where it's needed most, around the country. For more on smart grids, this lengthy SciAm article is a good read. [NYTimes]