President Barack Obama today announced $3.4 billion in ARRA smart-grid grants. According to a White House release, this is the largest single energy-grid modernization investment in U.S. history. The funds will be matched by industry funding for a total public-private investment of more than $8 billion, according to the release. Full listings of the grant awards by category and state are available here and here. A map of the awards is available here.

Today's announcement includes:

  • 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. This will help reduce energy bills for everyone by helping drive down "peak demand" and limiting the need for "stand-by" power plants -- the most expensive power generation there is.
  • Making Electricity Distribution and Transmission More Efficient -- $400 million. The Administration is funding several grid modernization projects across the country that will significantly reduce the amount of power that is wasted from the time it is produced at a power plant to the time it gets to houses. 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. Much like electronic banking, the Smart Grid is not the sum total of its components but how those components work together. The Administration is funding a range of projects that will incorporate these 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 our manufacturing base of companies that can produce the smart meters, smart appliances, synchrophasors, smart transformers, and other components for smart grid systems in the United States and around the world - representing a significant and growing export opportunity for our country and new jobs for American workers.

Photo by James Jhs. Creative Commons License Attribution 2.0 Generic