On Tuesday, President Barack Obama announced the award of $3.4 billion in the Department of Energy’s Smart Grid Investment Grant program to a list of one hundred companies and communities in forty-nine states in an effort to modernize the electricity grid.  The private industry matching funds equaled $4.7 billion, bringing the combined total to more than $8 billion towards the largest national investment ever into the modernization of the United States grid.  The grants awarded were part of the stimulus under the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act. 

 Federal funding for projects is divided into six project categories.  The first category, Advanced Metering Infrastructure, is the process for implementing advanced metering or “smart meters” to residential, commercial, and industrial customers within utility territories.  This project category will install approximately 18 million new meters.  The second category is Customer Service projects that will allow for automated demand response during peak demand periods.  Category 3, Electric Distribution Systems projects, will focus on upgrading the lower-voltage electric systems while Category 4, Electric Transmission Systems projects, will upgrade high-voltage systems.  Category 5 is Equipment Manufacturing, and it will support more energy efficient products that will in turn reduce consumer energy consumption.  Finally, Category 6 projects are Integrated and/or Crosscutting Systems.  These projects will encompass system upgrades throughout the network.     

 Two of the states that should heavily benefit from the grants are Florida and North Carolina.  Florida received over $267 million in grants, while North Carolina received over $400 million.  Duke Energy Business Services LLC, Florida Power and Light Company, PECO Energy Company, Central Point Energy, and Baltimore Gas and Electric Company were among the companies to be awarded the largest grants possible at $200 million each.  President Obama’s Administration hopes this new surge in funding will help cut electricity usage in the United States while creating thousands of new jobs.

 The full list of awards is available at: http://www.energy.gov/recovery/smartgrid_maps/SGIGSelections_State.pdf