On June 13, 2011, the United States Department of Energy (“DOE”) Secretary, Steven Chu, took part in a White House Grid Modernization event titled “Building the 21st Century.”  At the event, Chu announced that more than five million smart meters have been installed across the U.S. as part of efforts to increase modernization of the electric grid.  Secretary Chu stated that “to compete in the global economy, we need a modern electricity grid.”

At the event, Chu addressed several energy topics, including the use of renewable energy in Ireland, Spain and China, but emphasized the need for the U.S. to increase the efficiency and reliability of the grid.  Chu also emphasized the need for the U.S. to take a “hard, sober look” at the transmission and distribution planning for states, regions, and national entities; he said the U.S. must “understand the options and trade-offs,” including the debate between wind transmission from the west or developing wind sources local to a state.  Chu stated that going forward, if you are allowed to transmit energy across regions, the overall cost of energy will be less. Chu also stressed that steps taken to modernize the grid should be affordable and promote overall efficiency.

In connection with the event, President Obama’s Administration released a report titled “A Policy Framework for the 21st Century Grid: Enabling Our Secure Energy Future” (the “Report”).  The Report was produced by the National Science and Technology Council and establishes four priorities: (1) “Scale what works” to enable cost-effective smart grid investments; (2) Unlock the innovation potential in the electricity sector with a continued focus on open interoperability standards; (3) Empower consumers with education and access to their own energy usage information in consumer- and computer- friendly formats, with improved privacy safeguards and consumer protections; and (4) Continue to secure the grid against natural disasters and cyber-threats.

A copy of the report is available here.

A link to Chu’s presentation is available here.