White House reveals smart grid plans for US

13 Jun 2011

Obama administration officials have today announced initiatives aimed at deploying more IT solutions to modernise the US power grid and to spur on electric grid innovation.

The ‘Plan for a 21st Century Grid’, which was announced this morning, includes US$250m in loans for smart-grid technology deployment as part of the US Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utility Service, which is focused on upgrading the electric grid in rural America.

In addition, it launches Smart Grid 21, a private-sector initiative that will aim to give consumers better access to their energy-usage information, and has expanded partnerships to continue working with states and stakeholders, including an initiative to share lessons learned from Recovery Act smart grid investments.

The White House also released a new report by the National Science and Technology Council, A Policy Framework for the 21st Century Grid, which looks at issues such as better alignment of economic incentives to boost development and deployment of smart-grid technologies and empowering consumers with better information to save energy and lower their bills.

High-level officials from US President Barack Obama’s cabinet spoke about the US government’s smart grid plans, including Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and John Holdren, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and Obama’s science and technology adviser.

“A 21st-century grid is essential to America’s ability to lead the world in clean energy and win the future,” said Holdren, “By unlocking the potential of innovation in the electric grid, we are allowing consumers and businesses to use energy more efficiently, even as we help utilities provide cleaner energy and more reliable service.”

Added Chu: “America cannot build a 21st-century economy with a 20th-century electricity system. By working with states, industry leaders and the private sector, we can build a clean, smart, national electricity system that will create jobs, reduce energy use, and expand renewable energy production.”

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic