October 27, 2009

Obama Awards $3.4 Billion For Smart Grid Technology

President Barack Obama on Tuesday awarded $3.4 billion in government grants to be divvied up among 100 business entities for the development of a smart electric grid.

"We are making the largest-ever investment in a smarter, stronger and more secure electric grid," while boosting a "clean-energy economy," Obama said at Florida Power and Light Co's DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center.

The announcement marks the largest sum awarded in a single day from the $787 billion economic stimulus package.

Grants will be used to create a smart grid that will make energy delivery more efficient and allow for better utilization of energy from renewable sources like wind and solar.

Jared Bernstein, Vice President Joe Biden's chief economic adviser, said the grants will "save or create tens of thousands" of jobs, adding that the stimulus has created or saved about 1 million jobs since it began.

Grants will range from $400,000 to $200 million, and will be given to different groups in 49 states.

"It is fair to say that the current (grid) system is certainly outdated. It's dilapidated," Carol Browner, the president's top adviser on climate change and energy issues, told Reuters.

"Not only do we need to make the current system bigger and add more watts, but we need to make it function better," she said, calling the current system "antiquated."

Companies that will receive grants have secured an additional $4.7 billion in private funding needed to match government grants.