Obama's $8-Billion Plan to Modernize the US Power Grid

Oh, Sr. Presidente, you look so goooood in the middle of the largest photovoltaic farm in the country—-the 180-acre DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center near Tampa, Florida. Maybe that's why you want to put solar panels everywhere.

View gallery »

President Barack Obama announced today a $8-billion federal plant to modernize the United State's power grid. $3.4 billion will come from the government, and the rest will be put up by private companies. In his words:

At this moment, there's something big happening in America when it comes to creating a clean-energy economy. But getting there will take a few more days like this one, and more projects like this one. Here in this region of Florida, this project will reduce demand for electricity by up to 20 percent during the hottest summer days that stress the grid and power plants,. It will provide smart meters to 2.6 million more customers. And most importantly, it will create thousands of jobs - good jobs, by the way, that can't be outsourced; jobs that will last and jobs that pay a decent wage.

In my words: About fucking time. We need to modernize the power grid not only for the jobs, but for the long term survivability of the country's economy. It's the only way to depend less on other countries, and make production more efficient and competitive.

And it's not only about using renewable energies. It's about increasing the efficiency of electricity transport and consumption at homes. That's why $1 billion is going to smart meters and other consumer oriented technology, which will make more than 5 million homes to consume a lot less. Two billion dollars will go to infrastructure to support those meters, and $400 to modernize power lines, with an additional $25 million to push for smarter, more power efficient devices.

Do you think this is a lot of money? It is, especially since it only covers a small part of the grid. But here's what we are getting in return: $20 billion in savings during the next decade, plus increasing the reliability of the grid to avoid power outages that cost $150 billion a year to the US economy.

I can only hope this goes well, and we keep modernizing the rest of the grid as soon as possible. [Miami Herald and Ars Technica]