The process, known as grid smoothing, also makes room for renewable energy sources, which tend to enter the power grid in spurts. Smoothing ensures that the system pulls heavily from turbines on windy days or draws on conventional sources when the sun is too weak to feed solar arrays. A higher percentage of energy from renewable sources generally lowers consumer costs. Even better, utilities don’t need hardware upgrades to see the benefits. “All they have to do is install the new program,” Ruiz says.