$100 M in Stimulus Available for SmartGrid Training

Speaking at the GridWeek 2009 Conference recently, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced more than $144 million in funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for the electric power sector, including $100 million in available funding for smart grid workforce training programs and $44 million in awards to state public utility commissions (PUCs).

"America cannot build a 21st Century energy economy with a mid-20th Century electricity system. This is why the Obama Administration is investing in projects that will lay the foundation for a modernized, resilient electrical grid," said Chu. "By working with industry leaders and the private sector, we can drive the evolution to a clean, smart, national electricity system that will create jobs, reduce energy use, expand renewable energy production, and cut carbon pollution."

The $100 million will expand job creation and career advancement opportunities associated with smart grid and electricity transmission projects and will help establish training programs for workers in the utility industry and electrical manufacturing sectors who will play a key role in modernizing the country's electrical grid.

The funding opportunity announcement will support two primary workforce training strategies:

  • $35 million to $40 million to develop training programs, strategies and curricula that will be used as models for how to train or retrain workers in the electric power sector, with a focus on achieving a national, clean energy smart grid. This funding will be open to a range of applicants, including utilities, colleges and universities, trade schools, and labor organizations.
  • $60 million to $65 million to conduct workforce training programs for new hires and retraining programs for electric utility workers and electrical equipment manufacturers to further knowledge of smart grid technologies and their implementation.
PUCs, which regulate and oversee electricity projects in their states, will be receiving more than $44.2 million in Recovery Act funding to hire new staff and retrain existing employees to ensure they have the capacity to quickly and effectively review proposed electricity projects. The funds will help the individual state commissions accelerate reviews of the large number of electric utility requests that are expected under the Recovery Act. State PUCs will be reviewing electric utility investments in projects such as energy efficiency, renewable energy, carbon capture and storage, transmission lines, energy storage, smart grid, demand response equipment, and electric and hybrid-electric vehicles.