While the Smart Grid we needed years ago is still years away, the Obama administration took a step forward today as Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced $620 million in stimulus awards for 32 Smart Grid demonstration projects benefiting 21 states. A decidedly feel-good video that is nonetheless educational was released along with the announcement and explains (in broad terms at least) what the DOE aims to achieve with its Smart Grid investment. View it after the jump.
Last month, President Obama promised 100 grants totaling $3.4 billion in eventual Smart Grid funding, but for now it seems the DOE is at least getting serious about launching some demo projects to test novel transmission and storage technologies. Half of the projects – and at $435 million, the bulk of the funds – will go toward Smart Grid tech that allows the grid to communicate in real time with utilities, homes and appliances, as well as to integrate renewable resources into the energy mix.
The other half of the projects (and the remaining $185 million) will fund "utility-scale energy storage projects" that will assist the grid in storing excess energy for later use, a key component for bringing inconsistent renewable sources like wind and solar into our national energy diet. Those technologies include better battery systems and compressed air energy systems, among others.
That's where things get interesting. It's easy to dismiss these kinds of announcements as political posturing at a time when the President's critics are browbeating him over stimulus job numbers and the whereabouts of his ballyhooed "green jobs." But the Smart Grid does have the potential to change the way Americans consume energy, and improved battery tech could be the key to everything from increased renewable energy use to a shift toward all-electric automobiles.
If the money makes it to the right people with the right ideas, this could mark the beginning of a long and overdue shift in American energy policy. Here's to cautious optimism.
Get the entire list of projects here.
Before I get into this, I know the article was talking about replacing meters and having computer programs to monitor your house when you are away and at home. This is a great push for on time energy management and cost savings. However, I am hesitant to believe some of Obama's speech that "it is expected to create 10's to 1000's of new jobs all across America" it will take place over the next decade. Well physical jobs for changing the meters will be electricians and meter workers that we already have. Software and contact service jobs will of course be outsourced. Ken Defontes states "Upstream jobs" that retooling will create new jobs. Well if this was a new technology and R&D research had to take place, then I would half way believe you but it is not. I bet money that they already have a plant producing these things in China. If not then it will not take long for a manufacturer such as GE to retool a plant to produce those little gizmos.
I smell a payoff ladies and gents to some OHH really rich people. I am Pro smart grid but what happens when these power companies are not bringing all those extra dollars to pad the linings of their pockets? In addition, the power companies need a lot of money to keep their plants up and running. With the operating cost of power plants increasing and new technology needed to reduce the carbon footprint of these plants the cost of utility energy will increase. As we, all know the cost for things always goes up before it comes down. One cannot believe that in 5 to 10 years all of sudden your electric bill will be 1/3 cheaper. The greed of these oil and electric power companies in this country is so immense that they WILL get more of our money one way or another. We will be paying through our teeth for these gizmos and technology somehow someway even though we need it badly.
hate to rip on the topic, hate worse to jump on the bandwagon, but I do agree that the monies earmarked for 'exploration of smart grid technology' is just gonna pay guys that already make millions per year to sit around and implement changes that were old technology 20 years ago. In the end, we will have an outdated grid for all the new influx of dollars.
IMO it really has nothing at all to do with jobs or even the grid itself. It is to payback GE for it's enormous donation and help with Obama's campaign to get elected. You don't get money from big time players like that without some agreement for future returns. This is the reason Democracy is destined to fail. Somebody always has to be paid back with taxpayer cash at the end. This is not a red/blue left/right issue, it is all of them. Both sides play this game and I personally am tired of it. It is time for us to truly govern ourselves, and the only way to do that is anarchy.
I agree with other post here, but on a more positive note. Some of the projects can have a real job creation behind them, not many though. I really don't see how 1,000's of job could be created, I think it was more accurate when he said 10's, like maybe 20...
Hey, Popsci, just wondering if you plan to report on the biggest science story of the decade? Namely that the top "scientists" supporting global warming have been exposed as agenda-driven, data-skewing frauds. You know, the whole University of East Anglia hacked e-mail thing. Think that just MIGHT have some impact on the veracity of those ten thousand global warming articles you've served up over the years? As a publication with SCIENCE in it's very name, you just MIGHT be concerned with corrupted DATA and feel some RESPONSIBILITY to your READERS.
LIE! LIE! LIE!
This will LOSE Jobs.
All Meter Readers will be Gone!
Why are we paying the power companies to install meters that will eliminate the meter readers. If they want to save payroll let them pay for it. They should have installed cell phone meters years ago that modem the bill to them. Now we are buying them new meters?
This is not about the grid this is about the meter and not having to send someone out to read it.
It is a lie that it is about jobs, it is a lie that it is about renewable energy, and it is a lie period.