President Obama Details Smart Grid Funding - InformationWeek

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President Obama Details Smart Grid Funding

The government plans to spend $3.4 billion in federal stimulus funds to upgrade the nation's power grid. R&D efforts are already underway at some leading tech vendors.

President Obama is expected to formally announce $3.4 billion in smart grid funding from the federal stimulus package in a speech today at a large solar power plant in Florida.

Energy companies will use the grants to bring the nation's power grid into the digital age by developing and implementing technologies like smart meters, digital transformers, and automated power monitoring and management systems.

Smart grid technology can give consumers better insight into and control over their power usage. Obama administration officials have said the smart grid should spur more efficient use of power and prompt investment in the energy sector, especially in renewable energy.

The 100 project grants range from $400,000 to $200 million, and companies plan to invest $4.7 billion on top of the $3.4 billion in grant money, according to the Associated Press. White House energy assistant Carol Browner and other officials held a conference call yesterday to discuss the smart grid initiatives.

Constellation Energy announced today that its subsidiary, Baltimore Gas and Electric, had received one of the largest grants, $200 million. Among other things, the company plans to install 2 million residential smart meters "that will allow customers to better manage electricity use."

According to Reuters, the White House plans to begin dispersing funds within 60 days.

Computer industry companies are investing in smart grid technologies. Earlier this year, Google introduced home power monitoring application PowerMeter, while Microsoft launched a competitor called Hohm. Cisco has a smart grid division.

The Obama administration broadly outlined its smart grid investments in April. On Oct. 26, the Department of Energy detailed $151 million in stimulus funding for advanced energy research projects, including research on low cost battery technology, synthetic enzymes that can capture carbon, and lower cost LED lighting.

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