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By Shay Bapple on Apr 12, 2010 with 5 responses

US Invests in Smart Grid Training

The US is gearing up for smart grid implementation by subsidizing the training of employees.

Rockville, Md. – Schools across the country will be receiving stimulus funds in an attempt to educate electrical workers in smart grid technology. The plan, according to the Department of Energy, is to hand out money that will develop training programs for nearly 30,000 American workers and eventually save consumers money on their electric bill.

The total amount of awards according to Secretary of Energy, Steven Chu, will near $100 million and support 54 smart grid projects. These programs are intended to prepare the future generation of workers in the utility and electrical manufacturing industries.

The plan will be split up into two initiatives. The first part will entail the federal government providing funding in the neighborhood of $41 million to 33 projects related to the power sector and smart grid technology. This includes support for the strategies training and Education in Power Systems Initiative. This initiative develops cross-disciplinary electrical power system programs at the university and college level.

The second part of the initiative will be funding of $57.7 million for 21 projects to carry out workforce training programs for new hires, including displaced workers and military veterans. This will also provide retraining programs for electrical utility workers and electrical equipment manufacturers to increase their knowledge of smart grid systems and their implementation.

According to the DOE, some workers that will benefit from the training are support electricians, line workers, technicians, system operators, power systems engineers and cyber security specialists. The support will include developing and deploying programs that train workers on transmission and distribution systems and new intelligent grid systems, like smart meters, phasor measurement sensors and advanced communications networks.

Chu says that this plan will not only create more jobs, but ready the public for energy savings.

“Building and operating smart grid infrastructure will put tens of thousands of Americans to work,” said Chu in a DOE statement. “Today’s investment will help ensure that we have the workforce in place to meet this need.”

Chu made his announced at Pepco’s engineering and service center in Maryland, a scheduled recipient of $4.4 million in funding intended to subsidize the training of 700 new and existing employees.

In addition to the educational funding, Pepco will receive $168.1 million for other new projects. The company claims that this federal grant will be used to offset the cost to customers for installing smart meters and modernizing the electrical and smart grid, while creating new jobs, boosting the economy and laying technological groundwork for customers to better manage their energy use.

In California, some consumers have criticized the smart-meter as a mechanism that overcharges for electricity.

“The $168.1 million will accelerate the delivery of customer benefits through building an integrated smart grid composed of advanced metering infrastructure, distribution automation and demand response technologies,” said Joseph M Rigby, PHI Chairman, President and CEO.

While the federal government may be investing funds to enable smart grid implementation, some consumers who have sampled a taste of the new technology are unhappy with the early results. In California, several residents have sued Pacific Gas and Electric claiming that the new smart meters generate higher electric bills, compared to the same month from the previous year. PG&E has already installed invested $2.2 billion installing 4 million of the smart meters in homes and businesses all over California thus far.

The lawsuits were filed at the end of 2009 against the company with customers complaining that their meters run too fast. One Bakersfield man filed a complaint stating that his electric bill went up from $200 a month to about $500 a month after the new smart meter was installed. Hundreds of others have followed suit. To defend the suit, PG&E will be likely required to prove that the new meters are accurate and not the cause of inappropriate rate increases.

  1. By CEA on April 13, 2010 at 4:09 pm

    Investing into the smart grid is a crucial step towards better energy practice. We can put solar and wind turbines up all we want, but if that energy isn’t properly utilized it matters very little. Not only does a smart grid potential benefit consumers, but it allows incentives for developers who will gain access to a greater market.
    Want to learn more about balanced energy for America? Visit http://www.consumerenergyalliance.org to get involved, discover CEA’s mission and sign up for our informative newsletter.

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  2. By GridWatch on April 14, 2010 at 12:51 pm

    Thanks, Shay, for this article regarding funding for training related to the new power grid. Although the 100 million dollars for training represents only a drop in the bucket regarding the needed funding for the future grid as a whole, it is a step in the right direction. We will need to train people to replace those retiring soon and we will need to provide others with additional training because of the new technologies and applications to come.

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  3. By Technological Leadership Institute on August 23, 2010 at 2:14 pm

    Well said. The director of our Master of Science in Security Technologies, Dr. Massoud Amin, has been very involved in how the development and deployment of a self-healing, reconfigurable smart grid can relieve power grid deficiencies. Our MSST program is very involved in preparing students to manage a new and improved smart grid

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  4. By Kevin Hall on April 9, 2011 at 7:06 pm

    Where did you get the information on the type of workers that will benifit from the Stimulus?

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  5. By JOHN GIORDANO on July 9, 2011 at 12:52 pm

    New Horizons Global Concepts is attempting to eliminate power grids, too many areas around the country loose power from the “grid” on a regular basis for extended periods of time. NHGC is pushing the development of magnetic generators that range in size from nano (for powering handheld products) through major for very large factory’s.
    They are also pushing the magnetic engine for our vehicles. No Gas Required!
    Also trying to set up heating & cooling for all our surfaces, no more black ice, No more roads closed because of snow & ice!
    A major downturn in weather related accidents, reduce your insurance cost.
    No more breaking your back clearing your driveway of snow!
    No more scraping ice & snow from your windshields!
    This company wants us to enter the 21st CENTURY !

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