US President Barack Obama has announced $3.4billion in grant awards to fund a broad range of smart grid technologies and projects.
Part of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, the awards will be matched by industry funding for a total investment worth more than $8billion. Among the major elements of the announcement were:
- The empowering of consumers to save energy and cut utility bills: $1billion will go towards creating the infrastructure and expanding access to smart meters and customer systems so consumers can save money by programming smart appliances.
- Integrating and crosscutting across different 'smart' components of a Smart Grid: The administration will fund projects that incorporate various components into one system or cut across various project areas – these may include plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, smart meters, smart thermostats and more for a total investment of $2billion.
- Making electricity distribution and transmission more efficient: Around $400million will be dedicated to several grid modernisation projects across the country that could reduce the amount of power wasted from the time it is produced at a power plant to the time it reaches a house.
- Building a Smart Grid manufacturing industry: Investments will be made to expand the manufacturing base of companies that can produce smart meters and other smart appliances with a total investment of $26million.
It is hoped that the investment will help achieve a number of goals including creating higher grid reliability and reducing power outages; installing more than 850 sensors that will cover 100 per cent of the US grid and make it possible for operators to better monitor conditions and prevent disturbances; and the installation of more than 200,000 smart transformers that will make it possible for power companies to replace units before they fail.
It is estimated by the Electric Power Research Institute, that smart grid technologies will help reduce electricity use by more than four per cent by 2030.