Secretary Chu discusses smart grid future and announces funding


Washington, D.C., September, 25, 2009 — In his keynote speech to the GridWeek 2009 Conference, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu detailed his vision for implementing the smart grid and modernizing America's electrical system.

Chu's plan is for a stronger, smarter, more efficient electricity infrastructure that will encourage growth in renewable energy sources, empower consumers to reduce their energy use, and lay the foundation for sustained, long-term economic expansion.

During his remarks, Secretary Chu also announced more than $144 million in funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for the electric power sector, including $44 million in awards to state public utility commissions and $100 million in available funding for smart grid workforce training programs.

"America cannot build a 21st Century energy economy with a mid-20th Century electricity system. This is why the Obama Administration is investing in projects that will lay the foundation for a modernized, resilient electrical grid," said Secretary Chu. "By working with industry leaders and the private sector, we can drive the evolution to a clean, smart, national electricity system that will create jobs, reduce energy use, expand renewable energy production, and cut carbon pollution."

Secretary Chu announced the availability of $100 million in funding from the Recovery Act to support workforce training for the electric power industry. This initiative is meant to expand job creation and career advancement opportunities associated with smart grid and electricity transmission projects and will help establish training programs for workers in the utility industry and electrical manufacturing sectors who will play a key role in modernizing the country's electrical grid.

The funding opportunity announcement will support two workforce training strategies:

 * $35 -$40 million to develop training programs, strategies and curricula that will be used as models for how to train or retrain workers in the electric power sector, with a focus on achieving a national, clean energy smart grid. This funding will be open to a range of applicants, including utilities, colleges and universities, trade schools and labor organizations.

 * $60-$65 million to conduct workforce training programs for new hires and retraining programs for electric utility workers and electrical equipment manufacturers to further knowledge of smart grid technologies and their implementation.

These programs will expand the United States' capability to manufacture and install the electrical equipment and new technologies needed to implement the smart grid, and help ensure that the U.S. maintains its position as a global leader in innovation and technological advancement.

State public utility commissions, will receive more than $44.2 million in Recovery Act funding to hire new staff and retrain existing employees to ensure they have the capacity to quickly and effectively review proposed electricity projects.

The funds will help the individual state PUCs accelerate reviews of the large number of electric utility requests that are expected under the Recovery Act.

State PUCs will be reviewing electric utility investments in projects such as energy efficiency, renewable energy, carbon capture and storage, transmission lines, energy storage, smart grid, demand response equipment, and electric and hybrid-electric vehicles.


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