U.S. closer to creation of a Smart Grid

May 18, 2009 at 1:06 PM
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WASHINGTON, May 18 (UPI) -- U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu say they've moved closer to creation of a nationwide "smart" electric power grid.

A so-called Smart Grid would replace the current, outdated system of electricity distribution and employ real-time, two-way communication technologies to allow users to connect directly with power suppliers.

Locke and Chu said the new technology would not only create jobs and spur development of innovative products that can be exported, but it is expected to save consumers money and reduce America's dependence on foreign oil.

But before the grid can be constructed there needs to be agreement on standards for the devices that will connect it.

Locke and Chu met Monday with industry leaders at the White House and announced the first set of standards needed for the interoperability and security of the Smart Grid.

They also announced the maximum award available under the Smart Grid Investment Grant Program will be increased from $20 million to $200 million and for Smart Grid Demonstration Projects from $40 million to $100 million.

Chu and Locke said their meeting was designed to encourage industry executives to expedite the adoption of standards in advance of a major public standards workshop to be held this week in Washington.

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