Obama to Announce $3.4 Billion in Electric ‘Smart-Grid’ Grants
By Nicholas Johnston
Oct. 27 (Bloomberg) -- President Barack Obama today will announce $3.4 billion in government grants for equipment to improve the efficiency of the nation’s electrical transmission network.
The grants, ranging in size from $400,000 to $200 million, will be used to develop and install “smart-grid” technology to make electricity transmission more reliable and aid the transmission of energy generated from sources like wind and solar power.
“The current system is outdated and dilapidated,” Carol Browner, the White House’s top energy adviser, said in a conference call with reporters late yesterday. Today’s grants “will give us a transformational impact on how electricity is generated, delivered and consumed,” she said.
The money comes from the $787 billion economic stimulus legislation approved by Congress in February. Jared Bernstein, chief economic adviser to Vice President Joe Biden, said during the conference call the grants will “save or create tens of thousands” of jobs.
Bernstein said Oct. 15 the stimulus legislation has created or saved about 1 million jobs since it was enacted. The nation’s unemployment rate rose to 9.8 percent last month, and the president has said he expects it to exceed 10 percent before it starts coming down.
Solar Power Plant
Obama will announce the grants today in Arcadia, Florida, at one of the nation’s largest solar power generating facilities. Florida Power & Light Co.’s DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center will generate enough power for 3,000 homes when it is completed.
The president will highlight new technologies to transmit electricity from places like Arcadia, about 60 miles (97 kilometers) southeast of Tampa, to locations where energy demand is greater.
“Places with either solar or wind aren’t always the most populous areas of the country, and you’ve got to find a vehicle that’s technologically capable of moving clean power to places where the demand is greatest,” White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters traveling with the president yesterday.
One of the largest grants being announced is $200 million for Constellation Energy Group Inc.’s Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. to provide new electric meters to 1.1 million households that will allow real-time monitoring of electricity use and help customers adjust their usage during peak times.
Sempra Energy’s San Diego Gas & Electric Co. will receive $28.1 million to build a wireless system to link the utility’s 1.4 million meters and monitor other equipment across the electrical grid.
The 100 government grants in 49 states are being matched by $4.7 billion in private investments.
To contact the reporter on this story: Nicholas Johnston in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org