U.S. Invests $3.4 B to Modernize the Grid

Speaking at Florida Power and Light’s (FPL) DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center, President Barack Obama on Tuesday announced the largest single energy grid modernization investment in U.S. history, funding a broad range of technologies that will spur the nation’s transition to a smarter, stronger, more efficient and reliable electric system.

The end result will promote energy-saving choices for consumers, increase efficiency, and foster the growth of renewable energy sources like wind and solar.

The $3.4 billion in grant awards 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.

Full listings of the grant awards by category and state are available.

One-hundred private companies, utilities, manufacturers, cities and other partners received the Smart Grid Investment Grant awards, including Florida Power & Light, which will use its $200 million to install more than 2.5 million smart meters and other technologies that will cut energy costs.

The awards announced by Obama represented the largest group of Recovery Act awards ever made in a single day and the largest batch of Recovery Act clean energy grant awards to-date.

The announcement included: Empowering Consumers to Save Energy and Cut Utility Bills ─ $1 billion. These investments will create the infrastructure and expand access to smart meters and customer systems so that consumers will be able to access dynamic pricing information and have the ability to save money by programming smart appliances and equipment to run when rates are lowest.

Making Electricity Distribution and Transmission More Efficient ─ $400 million. By deploying digital monitoring devices and increasing grid automation, these awards will increase the efficiency, reliability and security of the system, and will help link up renewable energy resources with the electric grid. This will make it easier for a wind farm in Montana to instantaneously pick up the slack when the wind stops blowing in Missouri or a cloud rolls over a solar array in Arizona.

Integrating and Crosscutting Across Different “Smart” Components of a Smart Grid ─ $2 billion. These projects will incorporate 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.

Building a Smart Grid Manufacturing Industry ─ $25 million. These investments will help expand the manufacturing base of companies that can produce the smart meters, smart appliances, synchrophasors, smart transformers, and other components for smart grid systems.

When the projects are fully implemented, they will:

  • Leverage more than $4.7 billion in private investment to match the federal investment.
  • Install more than 850 sensors - called ‘Phasor Measurement Units’─ that will cover 100 percent of the U.S. electric grid and make it possible for grid operators to better monitor grid conditions and prevent minor disturbances in the electrical system from cascading into local or regional power outages or blackouts.
  • Install more than 200,000 smart transformers that will make it possible for power companies to replace units before they fail thus saving money and reducing power outages.
  • Install almost 700 automated substations, representing about 5 percent of the nation’s total that will make it possible for power companies to respond faster and more effectively to restore service when bad weather knocks down power lines or causes electricity disruptions.

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