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DoE: Smart Grid Vision and US$144m for transition to smart grid

In his keynote speech to the GridWeek 2009 Conference on 21 September, US Energy Secretary Steven Chu detailed his vision for implementing the smart grid and modernising the USA’s electrical system.

The smart grid could provide “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,” DoE says.

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

US$100m for smart grid workforce training

Energy Secretary Chu announced the availability of $100m in funding from the Recovery Act to support workforce training for the electric power industry. This could expand job creation and career advancement opportunities associated with smart grid and electricity transmission projects, and help establish training programmes for workers in the utility industry and electrical manufacturing sectors.

Funding will support two primary workforce training strategies:

  • US$35-40m to develop training programmes, 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 labour organisations;
  • US$60-65m to conduct workforce training programmes for new hires and retraining programmes for electric utility workers and electrical equipment manufacturers to further knowledge of smart grid technologies and their implementation.

US$44m for State public utility commissions

State public utility commissions (PUCs), which regulate and oversee electricity projects in their states, will be receiving more than US$44.2m 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.

A full list of states and award amounts is available.

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