Last updated: April 24, 2009 - 8:22am
The Energy Department might revise its guidelines for $4.5 billion in smart grid grants after major electric utilities complained that the proposed $20 million-per-grant limit was too low to encourage commercial-scale deployment of advanced technologies. The smart grid spending is supposed to both create jobs and improve the efficiency and reliability of the electricity grid by lowering peak demand, reducing energy consumption, integrating more renewable energy sources and easing the pressure to build new coal-fired power plants. A variety of devices may qualify, including meters, grid management software and other equipment. Last week the department unveiled proposed guidelines for its smart grid program, which was part of the stimulus bill President Obama signed into law in February. It said that it would provide grants of $500,000 to $20 million to cover up to 50 percent of the cost of any project deploying smart grid technology. But utilities are saying that if the Obama administration doesn't raise the maximum grant size, it will fail to achieve its twin goals of creating jobs and improving the efficiency and reliability of the electricity grid because it will only stimulate a series of small pilot and demonstration programs.
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