Recognizing the importance of a modernized energy transmission system, the White House has launched a major effort to encourage and incentivize improvements to the grid.
In June, the Obama administration announced several new initiatives designed to accelerate modernization, bolster innovation and support the growth of clean energy. One of the highlights is $250 million in loans for smart grid technology deployment in rural areas. The loans are part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utility Service, which is focused on upgrading the electrical grid in rural America.
In conjunction with its efforts, the White House also released a new report by the cabinet-level National Science and Technology Council (NSTC), “A Policy Framework for the 21st Century Grid.” It delineates four overarching goals the administration will pursue in order to ensure all Americans benefit from investments in the nation’s electrical infrastructure. These include better alignment of economic incentives to support smart-grid technologies, improvement of standards to encourage innovation, empowerment of consumers with more information, and improved grid security and resilience.
Other initiatives announced by the White House mirror the goals outlined in the report. For example, the efforts include the launch of Grid 21, a private-sector initiative to promote consumer-friendly innovations. The intent of Grid 21 is to help consumers get better access to their own energy usage information, so they can better manage their energy use. New commitments by the Department of Energy to focus on improving consumer access to their own energy information will also help advance this goal.
The White House will also form a Renewable Energy Rapid Response Team—co-led by the White House Council on Environmental Quality, the Department of the Interior and the Department of Energy—to improve federal coordination and ensure timely review of proposed renewable-energy projects and transmission lines.