White House wants to modernize national power supply


The White House has introduced various measures to modernize the power grid in the United States and increase the use of smart grid technologies. Among other things, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will grant loans amounting to $250 million for the rehabilitation of rural power networks. In addition, the Administration intends to work more closely with the national energy companies and promote a smart grid research center with $20 million.

The National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners commented positively on the efforts of the White House. The report, A Policy Framework for the 21st Century Grid: Enabling Secure Our Energy Future was however also received with skepticism. An analysis by the Electric Power Research Institute states that the modernization of the national grid would cost up to $476 billion. It was questionable whether the White House initiatives were sufficient to attract additional private sector investment. Currently, U.S. utility companies spend only 0.2 percent of its revenues on R & D.

U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu pointed out that the infrastructure of the United States compared with other countries has fallen behind. In China, power lines can transmit electricity generated by wind and solar power over a distance of 2000 kilometers. In the U.S., 80% of the green electricity would be lost if transmitted that far via the old power grid.

For more information visit http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/microsites/ostp/nstc-smart-grid-june2011.pdf
(This article was first published in Washington News No. 22, June 16, 2011, cs)