Obama Launches Campaign to Help States, Utilities Deploy Smart Grid

"Obama administration officials, joined by electric power industry executives and state regulators, will unveil a new campaign [Monday] to push deployment of smart grid and clean energy technologies.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and John Holdren, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, head the administration officials at today's conference.

Unlike in 2009, when the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funded $4.5 billion in smart grid and clean energy grants nationwide, matched by $5.5 billion in private funding, the new program is not backed by a federal checkbook. A new commitment of $250 million in loans from the Agriculture Department's Rural Utility Service, is the only significant new funding in the campaign, according to people familiar with the plan.

The administration's "Plan for a 21st Century Electric Grid" is based instead on documenting the results of 141 smart grid technology projects funded by the Recovery Act and using these case studies from "first-mover" states to gain support from utilities, state regulators and consumers in other states that have not adopted smart grid programs, participants in the plan's development said."

Peter Behr reports for ClimateWire June 13, 2011.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011