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White House releases plan that outlines its smart grid development policy

SUBNET Solutions Inc | Monday, June 13, 2011

President Obama outlined a plan this week that illustrates how his administration plans to move forward with the investment and development of the U.S. smart grid.

Bloomberg reports that President Obama issued a proposal this week that, among other measures, includes funding for critical infrastructure protection, and plans to increase the amount of renewable energy sources that supply the U.S. with electricity.

The report, released by the National Science Technology Council, is called "Building the 21st Century Grid," and was presented by some of the president's top science and environmental advisers. According to the report, the Obama Administration plans to support more than $250 million worth of upgrades to transmission lines, automated substations and other grid technologies in rural areas.

What's more, the bill illustrates how the administration plans to give consumers better access to energy use data, as well as how it will prevent utilities from using their market clout to hike the rates their customers pay. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said that the plan to upgrade the power supply network and smart grid security measures would benefit private utilities and ratepayers alike.

"Smart grid technologies give consumers greater control over their electric costs and help utilities efficiently manage power generation and delivery," he said in a statement. "Through the use of modern technology we can improve the efficiency of distribution, increase reliability, and win the future through innovation."

Currently, President Obama is endeavoring to coordinate public and private efforts to replace aging critical infrastructure. The White House is also working with state agencies to spur the continued investment into upgrades of smart grid technologies.

Moreover, Obama's plan calls for investment into smart grid security measures. A recent Pentagon report highlighted the dangers facing the smart grid in the U.S., and Obama's plan calls for improvements in critical infrastructure protection (CIP) protocols. Obama said that more than 25 states have adopted their own smart grid policies.

"While there is no one-size-fits-all set of smart-grid solutions, there are important unifying policy strategies that can advance U.S. leadership in the 21st century clean-energy economy," the report states.

The report also calls for the development of a facility, dubbed the "smart grid innovation hub," that will be responsible for researching technology that can benefit the smart grid. Ultimately, the top goals for the smart grid, according to the White House, are to give customers better access to energy information; to improve smart cyber security measures; to spur innovation; and to speed investment to help cut utility bills.

"By unlocking the potential of innovation in the electric grid, we are allowing consumers and businesses to use energy more efficiently even as we help utilities provide cleaner energy and more reliable service," White House Office of Science and Technology Policy director John P. Holdren affirmed. 

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