President Obama's proposed new budget was just unveiled, and true to his word he's included modernizing the electrical grid as part of his proposed overhaul of the nation's infrastructure. For example, on pages 22-23:

Modernize the Electric Grid. We know that the existing electricity grid today is insufficient and outdated. In order to bring significant amounts of renewable energy online, tens of thousands of miles of new, high-voltage national transmission is necessary. For example, North Dakota—a State with significant wind energy potential—cannot carry the energy to the population centers that need the electricity without a new transmission superhighway. The Budget will build on efforts in the recovery Act to create this new, smarter electric grid for the integration and use of greater amounts of renewable energy; increased utilization of innovative efficiency technologies; and a reduction in the electric congestion that costs ratepayers billions of dollars each year. The recovery Act includes funds to complete additional significant work in improving the national grid with regional transmission planning and interconnection based transmission planning.  Included is a $100 million workforce training program. To make the grid smarter, millions of Smart Meters—a key first step to a Smart Grid—will be deployed as well as investments ina host of other smart grid technologies.

And again in page 64, among the funding highlights for the Dept of Energy:

Invests in Smart, Energy Efficient, Reliable Electricity delivery infrastructures. The Budget provides support for the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy reliability as part of the President’s investment plan to modernize the Nation’s electric grid. It includes: energy storage; cyber-security and investments in research, the development and demonstration of smart grid technologies that will accelerate the transformation of the Nation’s energy transmission and distribution system; enhancement of security and reliability of energy infrastructure; and facilitating recovery from disruptions to the energy supply.

We'll see how much of his $3.55 trillion budget makes it through Congress, but I predict a lot of support — from utilities, state and local governments, industry, and of course NEMA — in pushing forward with plans to ensure a more efficient, safer, more effective electrical distribution system in this country.


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