The Obama Administration on Monday announced a number of new initiatives designed to accelerate the modernization of the Nation’s electric infrastructure, bolster electric-grid innovation, and advance a clean energy economy.
Aimed at building the necessary transmission infrastructure and developing and deploying “smart grid” technologies, these initiatives will aim to facilitate the integration of renewable sources of electricity into the grid; accommodate a growing number of electric vehicles on America’s roads; help avoid blackouts and restore power quicker when outages occur; and reduce the need for new power plants, according to a federal press release.
The White House also released a new report by the Cabinet-level National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) that delineates four overarching goals the Administration will pursue: better alignment of economic incentives to boost development and deployment of smart-grid technologies; a focus on standards and interoperability to enable innovation; empowerment of consumers with enhanced information to save energy, ensure privacy, and shrink bills; and improved grid security and resilience.
"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," said U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu.
Among the public- and private-sector initiatives announced today:
- $250 million 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.
- The launch of Grid 21, a private sector initiative to promote consumer-friendly innovations while ensuring proper privacy safeguards and consumer protections.
- Expanded partnerships to continue working with States and stakeholders, including an initiative to share lessons learned from Recovery Act smart grid investments, and a series of regional peer-to-peer stakeholder meetings.
- The formation of a Renewable Energy Rapid Response Team, co-led by the White House Council on Environmental Quality, the Department of the Interior, and the Department of Energy, to improve Federal coordination and ensure timely review of proposed renewable energy projects and transmission lines.
These efforts build upon the $4.5 billion in grid modernization investments provided for in the Recovery Act—matched by contributions of more than $5.5 billion from the private sector—to modernize America’s aging energy infrastructure and provide cleaner and more reliable power.