ARCADIA, FLA. — Speaking at Florida Power and Light’s (FPL) DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center, President Barack Obama announced the largest single energy grid modernization investment in U.S. history, funding a broad range of technologies that are intended to spur the nation’s transition to a smarter, stronger, more efficient and reliable electric system. The end result, according to the Administration, will promote energy-saving choices for consumers, increase efficiency, and foster the growth of renewable energy sources such as wind and solar.
The $3.4 billion in grant awards are part of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, and will be matched by industry funding for a total public-private investment worth over $8 billion. Applicants state that the projects will create tens of thousands of jobs, and consumers in 49 states will benefit from these investments in a stronger, more reliable grid. Full listings of the grant awards are available by category and by state.
An analysis by the Electric Power Research Institute estimates that the implementation of smart grid technologies could reduce electricity use by more than 4 percent by 2030. That would mean a savings of $20.4 billion for businesses and consumers around the country.
One-hundred private companies, utilities, manufacturers, cities, and other partners received the Smart Grid Investment Grant awards, including FPL, which will use its $200 million in funding to install more than 2.5 million smart meters and other technologies that will cut energy costs for its customers. These awards represent the largest group of Recovery Act awards ever made in a single day and the largest batch of Recovery Act clean energy grant awards to-date.
According to the Obama Administration, when the projects funded by these grants are fully implemented, the investments will:
- Create tens of thousands of jobs across the country. These jobs include high paying career opportunities for smart meter manufacturing workers; engineering technicians, electricians and equipment installers; IT system designers and cyber security specialists; data entry clerks and database administrators; business and power system analysts; and others.
- Leverage more than $4.7 billion in private investment to match the federal investment.
- Make the grid more reliable, reducing power outages that cost American consumers $150 billion a year.
- Install more than 850 sensors — called Phasor Measurement Units — that will cover 100 percent of the U.S. electric grid and make it possible for grid operators to better monitor grid conditions and prevent minor disturbances in the electrical system from cascading into local or regional power outages or blackouts. This monitoring ability will also help the grid to incorporate large blocks of intermittent renewable energy, like wind and solar power, to take advantage of clean energy resources when they are available and make adjustments when they’re not.
- Install more than 200,000 smart transformers that will make it possible for power companies to replace units before they fail thus saving money and reducing power outages.
- Install almost 700 automated substations, representing about 5 percent of the nation’s total that will make it possible for power companies to respond faster and more effectively to restore service when bad weather knocks down power lines or causes electricity disruptions.
- Put us on a path to get 20 percent or more of our energy from renewable sources by 2020.
- Reduce peak electricity demand by more than 1,400 MW, which is the equivalent of several larger power plants and can save ratepayers more than $1.5 billion in capital costs and help lower utility bills.