Department of Energy Advances Smart Grid Vision

Washington, D.C., September 21, 2009 - U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu detailed the Obama administration's vision for implementing a smart grid and modernizing America's electrical system: a stronger, smarter, more efficient electricity infrastructure that will encourage growth in renewable energy sources, empower consumers to reduce their energy use, and lay the foundation for sustained, long-term economic expansion.

“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 in a keynote address at the GridWeek 2009 Conference. “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.”

High Voltage Transmission Tower
photo: Ian Mutto, some rights reserved

Chu outlined five areas for enabling grid modernization including renewable integration, system transparency, load management, energy storage, and cyber and physical security. He also offered examples of solutions in those areas, such as how to offset the variability of wind and solar generation through improving pumped storage systems where hydroelectric capacity can be stored in higher reservoirs for load balancing to meet peak demand periods.

Chu announced several programs funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to help advance the vision of moving to a new smart grid:

  • $35 -$40 million to develop training program models for the electric power sector with a focus on achieving a national, clean energy smart grid.
  • $60-$65 million to conduct workforce training programs for utility workers and electrical equipment manufacturers to help implement smart grid technologies.
  • $44.2 million for state public utility commissions to hire new staff and retrain existing employees to ensure capacity to accelerate reviews of proposed electricity projects.

Read the full Funding Opportunity Announcement for workforce programs.

View a full list of states and award amounts.