Obama Announces $3.4 Billion Investment in Smart Grid

Nov 4 2009 | 6:16pm ET

U.S. President Barack Obama used a recent visit to Florida Power and Light’s (FPL) DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center to announce the largest single energy grid modernization investment in U.S. history – $3.4 billion in grants to foster the transition to a smart energy grid.

The funding will go to a broad range of technologies promoting energy-saving choices for consumers, increasing efficiency, and encouraging the growth of renewable energy sources like wind and solar.

The grants are part of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, and will be matched by industry funding for a total public-private investment worth over $8 billion. Applicants state that the projects will create tens of thousands of jobs, and consumers in 49 states will benefit from these investments in a stronger, more reliable grid.

In all, over 100 energy providers, equipment manufacturers and smart grid-related companies will receive funding, with the bulk going to utilities. Grants are awarded in four categories:

  • Companies developing technologies to save energy and cut utility bills will receive a total of $1 billion. These investments will create the infrastructure and expand access to smart meters and customer systems, allowing customers to program appliances and equipment to run when power rates are lowest.
  • Companies improving the efficiency of electricity distribution and transmission will receive a total of $400 million. Funding will go to grid modernization projects dedicated to reducing the amount of power lost in transmission.
  • Companies integrating smart grid components will receive $2 billion in grants, funding a range of projects that will incorporate the various components into one system or cut across various project areas – including smart meters, smart thermostats and appliances, syncrophasors, automated substations, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, renewable energy sources, etc.
  • Companies building the smart grid manufacturing industry will receive $25 million to expand the country’s manufacturing base for all the smart grid components listed above.

FPL itself received $200 million in funding with which it will install over 2.5 million smart meters and other technologies.

“Not only do we need to make the current system bigger and add more watts, but we need to make it function better,” said Carol Browner, Obama’s chief adviser on climate change, at the event. “I would say it’s more than a facelift.”


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