President Obama is clearly the most tech-savvy leader ever to occupy the White House. And Smart Grid must be among his favorite emerging technologies. First he mentioned modernizing the electrical grid in his inaugural address, Then his administration worked to ensure $4.5 billion for DOE funding of demo projects. Now, he's bringing four dozen industry leaders together for a closed-door Smart Grid Leadership Summit, to get key stakeholders working together towards the same goal.
The Summit, to be led by Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and Energy Secretary Steven Chu, is this coming Monday. The Commerce Department has a huge interest because it's their National Institute for Standards and Technology that is in charge of putting together a Smart Grid interoperability framework (which will allow products across the country from the power plant to the substation to the home to work with each other). The Energy Department has its own keen interest because of its $4.5 billion budget for Smart Grid (and its more long-term interest in reducing energy consumption).
CEOs from about a dozen NEMA companies (manufacturers involved in Smart Grid) were invited, along with senior execs from shareholder-owned electric companies, standards development organizations, software companies, and trade associations (including NEMA). The 90-minute meeting on Monday precedes by a day the NIST "Smart Grid Interoperability Standards Interim Roadmap Workshop," scheduled for May 19-20 at the Gaylord National Harbor, where hundreds of stakeholders will meet to put together the strategy for developing standards for a national Smart Grid.
The last administration to pay this much attention to the electrical grid was probably FDR's, which helped ensure electricity distribution to rural areas of America. That program helped the poor. Today's Smart Grid initiative should help all Americans.