Smart Grid

Vermont will receive $69 million to develop a smarter, stronger, more efficient and reliable electric system.  The nationwide program is designed to increase efficiency, promote renewable energy sources, and save consumers money.  “This is an opportunity for Vermont once again to lead the nation in energy efficiency and in developing a greener economy.  These investments help move our state and our nation toward energy independence and will create many good-paying jobs,” said Senator Bernie Sanders, chairman of the Senate Green Jobs and the New Economy Subcommittee. Sanders asked about the grant at a Senate environment committee hearing on climate change legislation.

The Vermont project was one of 100 nationwide to receive a total of $3.4 billion in grants made available by the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, the economic stimulus legislation.

The funds will leverage an overall $8 billion investment in projects that will create tens of thousands of jobs and develop a stronger and more reliable energy grid.

The projects include the installation of so-called smart meters that use digital technology to display detailed information for customers and utilities. There are 28,000 smart meters in Vermont now. There will be 300,000 when the project is completed. The meters allow real-time monitoring of electricity use so homeowners and businesses can adjust their usage by turning off devices during peak hours when electricity is most expensive.

Federal stimulus money also will go to projects that improve the efficiency of power lines and electric substations, and for next-generation transformers that can wirelessly communicate their condition, so that power plant operators get a warning before a part fails.

Other projects will set the stage for the smooth introduction of large amounts of electricity from wind or solar sources into the transmission system.

Sanders asked Energy Secretary Steven Chu about the smart grid during a hearing Tuesday of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.  To watch the exchange, click here.

To watch Sanders’ opening statement on the global warming bill, click here.

To see a list of Sanders’ priorities that were included in the global warming bill, click here.