The Obama administration has unveiled a slew of programs and initiatives that aim to help add information technology to the power grid to make it more efficient. So far, $10 billion of public and private money has been devoted to the effort, but smart grid programs are noticeably light on funding commitments.
The new programs include:
- $250 million in loans for smart grid projects in the rural U.S., as well as a another potential $106 million in upgrades.
- Grid 21, which will focus on spurring tools that enable consumers to reduce energy consumption while maintaining privacy and security.
- A crowdsourced map to track progress of smart grid projects, a student competition around home energy efficiency, and an Energy Information Administration project on measuring energy efficiency progress.
- An initiative that seeks to share lessons learned from smart grid stimulus investments at www.SmartGrid.gov.
- A new “Renewable Energy Rapid Response Team” that will review clean power and transmission line projects and and improve “federal coordination” for getting clean power projects deployed.
- An emphasis on grid security issues.
- A “Smart Grid Innovation Hub,” a collaboration of federal researchers, companies and utilities representatives.
- The Advanced Research Project Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) will support new smart grid research and work with utilities and military bases to test new tech.
The administration also released a report focusing on ways to help modernize the grid, including better aligning economic incentives that will spur smart grid technologies.
Still, while they’re impressive, budget constraints are preventing a full funding of these efforts. That could make these initiative nothing more than “mostly talk.”