Washington, DC, U.S.A. --- (METERING.COM) --- June 15, 2011 - The smart grid is becoming a reality in the United States, with investment of more than $10 billion to date, comprised of $4.5 billion from the Recovery Act and more than $5.5 billion in matching funds from public and private stakeholders.

These funds have led to 141 smart grid grants and cooperative agreements for smart grid and energy storage technologies across the country, and inter alia the deployment of more than five million smart meters.

Further, additional funding is going towards workforce training, and the Rural Utilities Service has provided a record $7.1 billion in loans in 2010 to support the modernization of the electric infrastructure serving rural America.

Against this background the U.S. administration earlier this week announced several new initiatives, along with the release of a report, A Policy Framework for the 21st Century Grid, aimed at further advancing the nation’s smart grid development.

This framework, which is based on “extensive outreach and research,” identifies four pillars for a smarter grid, with no less than 13 specific actions, including commitments from the administration.

These four pillars are to:

  • Enable cost effective smart grid investments
  • Unlocking the potential of innovation in the electric sector
  • Empower consumers and enable informed decision making, and
  • Secure the grid from cybersecurity threats.

To achieve these the administration commits, inter alia, to continuing to invest in smart grid research, development, and demonstration projects, continuing to catalyze the development and adoption of open standards, and continuing to facilitate the development of guidelines for cybersecurity.

Further regulators and officials are directed to strive to reduce the generation costs associated with providing power to consumers or wholesale providers during periods of peak demand and encourage participation in demand management programs, and to evaluate the best means of ensuring that consumers receive meaningful information and education about smart grid technologies and options. They also should continue to consider strategies to align market and utility incentives with the provision of cost effective investments that improve energy efficiency.

In order to monitor progress, the Department of Energy is required to provide a status report within six months on implementation across smart grid topic areas, including cost-benefit analysis, standards development efforts in partnership with NIST, consumer education, and cybersecurity.