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Georgia to Receive Millions to Upgrade Energy Grid

President Obama announced the release of $3.4 billion through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to help modernize the nation’s energy grid on Tuesday during a speech in DeSoto, Florida.

See a map of where the grants are headed.

The Smart Grid Investment Grant funds will be matched by industry funding for a public-private investment worth over $8 billion, the largest such investment in U.S. history.

Here’s a portion of the president’s remarks from Florida:

To offer one analogy, just imagine what transportation was like in this country back in the 1920s and 1930s before the Interstate Highway System was built. It was a tangled maze of poorly maintained back roads that were rarely the fastest or the most efficient way to get from point A to point B. Fortunately, President Eisenhower made an investment that revolutionized the way we travel — an investment that made our lives easier and our economy grow.

Now, it’s time to make the same kind of investment in the way our energy travels — to build a clean energy superhighway that can take the renewable power generated in places like DeSoto and deliver it directly to the American people in the most affordable and efficient way possible. Such an investment won’t just create new pathways for energy — it’s expected to create tens of thousands of new jobs all across America in areas ranging from manufacturing and construction to IT and the installation of new equipment in homes and in businesses. It’s expected to save consumers more than $20 billion over the next decade on their utility bills. And I know nobody minds seeing their utility bills cut…It will make our grid more secure and more reliable, saving us some of the $150 billion we lose each year during power outages. It will allow us to more effectively transport renewable energy generated in remote places to large population centers, so that a wind farm in rural South Dakota can power homes in Chicago. And by facilitating the creation of a clean energy economy, building this 21st century energy infrastructure will help us lay a foundation for lasting growth and prosperity.

Georgia won’t be left behind. The Cobb County Electric Membership Corporation will receive $16.8 million to deploy 190,000 smart meters that will cover 100 percent of the utility’s customer base as well as implement communication infrastructure and load control switches, using state-of-the-art interoperable systems, servers, and data management technologies.

These smart meters will allow the EMC to track problems remotely and provide real-time information on power usage so consumers can adjust and save during off-peak hours.

Along with the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia, the Georgia System Operations Corporation and the Tri State EMC, Georgia will pull in over $36 million in ARRA funds. Private matching funds will turn that into nearly $74 million.

The White House points to a study by the Electric Power Research Institute that estimates the implementation of smart grid technology could reduce electricity use by 4 percent by 2030. That translates into $20.4 billion in savings for businesses and consumers.

Once fully implemented, here’s some other benefits the White House sees:

  • Create tens of thousands of jobs across the country, including high paying career opportunities for smart meter manufacturing workers; engineering technicians, electricians and equipment installers; IT system designers and cyber security specialists; data entry clerks and database administrators; business and power system analysts; and others.
  • Reduce power outages that cost American consumers $150 billion a year or about $500 for every man, woman, and child in the United States.
  • Install more than 850 sensors - called ‘Phasor Measurement Units’ - that will cover 100 percent of the U.S. electric grid and make it possible for grid operators to better monitor grid conditions and prevent minor disturbances in the electrical system from cascading into local or regional power outages or blackouts. This monitoring ability will also help the grid to incorporate large blocks of intermittent renewable energy, like wind and solar power, to take advantage of clean energy resources when they are available and make adjustments when they’re not.
  • Install more than 200,000 smart transformers that will make it possible for power companies to replace units before they fail thus saving money and reducing power outages.
  • Install almost 700 automated substations, representing about 5 percent of the nation’s total that will make it possible for power companies to respond faster and more effectively to restore service when bad weather knocks down power lines or causes electricity disruptions.
  • Deploy more than 40 million smart meters in American homes and businesses over the next few years that will help consumers cut their utility bills.
  • Install more than 1 million in-home displays, 170,000 smart thermostats, and 175,000 other load control devices to enable consumers to reduce their energy use. Funding will also help expand the market for smart washers, dryers, and dishwashers, so that American consumers can further control their energy use and lower their electricity bills.
  • Put the nation on a path to get 20 percent or more of our energy from renewable sources by 2020.
  • Reduce peak electricity demand by more than 1400 MW, which is the equivalent of several larger power plants and can save ratepayers more than $1.5 billion in capital costs and help lower utility bills.

One hundred private companies, utilities, manufacturers, cities, and other partners received awards. Search the grants by category and by state.


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