Big Money for ‘Smart Grid’

By Dschabner

Oct 27, 2009 6:00am

From Rachel Martin:

Today President Obama is taking a tour of one of the country's largest solar farms, in Arcadia, Fla., which will be the backdrop for his announcement about a major federal investment in a "smart grid" — a system of transmission lines to distribute electricity around the country quickly and efficiently.

The president will announce a $3.4 billion investment in 100 different projects in 49 states (the White House would not say which state was inadvertently left out).

These projects will be awarded up to $200 million each in federal grant money that comes from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. That money is then matched by private investors at least one to one.

According to senior White House officials, 400 projects were submitted for review and each project was evaluated up to four or five times through a competitive peer review over the past couple months. In a background briefing for reporters Monday, White House climate change czar Carole Browner named four awardees in Marietta, Ga.; Baltimore, Md.; San Diego; and Arcadia, Fla.

Through these projects, administration officials expect to create or save hundreds of thousands of jobs and ultimately reduce U.S. electricity consumption by 4 percent by 2030. According to a press release issued by the White House, "The end result will promote energy-saving choices for consumers, increase efficiency, and foster the growth of renewable energy sources like wind and solar."

Browner called the current energy transmission system "antiquated" and "dilapidated," and said this investment will be "far more than a facelift" for America's power transmission grid.

Many of the projects are described as "shovel-ready start-ups" that have had a hard time securing funding in the current economic climate.

"Americans will get a very high return for their investment," White House energy advisor Matt Rogers said.

– Rachel Martin

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