By Jesse Berst
Been wondering whether the Obama Administration still favors the smart grid? You'll be interested to hear that the White House has invited the media to a Monday event to announce several smart grid initiatives.
It certainly appears the smart grid continues as an Obama priority, given the heavy hitters scheduled to appear. They include Steven Chu, Secretary of Energy; Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture; Aneesh Chopra, U.S. Chief Technology Officer; and several other senior officials. We hear that a few leading utilities and at least one technology vendor will be featured as well.
Our sources say the announcements will include a new nonprofit to encourage rapid implementation of consumer tools for choice and control.
The meeting will also launch a new report titled "A Policy Framework for the 21st Century Grid." Issued by the National Science and Technology Council, the report will suggest a policy framework to encourage renewables integration; to accommodate electric vehicles; to improve reliability; and to reduce the need for new power plants.
Notably absent, however, will be another $4.3 billion like that provided by the stimulus legislation. Even so, I see this as a very positive event. The presidential spotlight is a powerful one. It is just the boost the sector needs as we approach the post-stimulus doldrums. With luck, it will encourage utilities to continue down the smart grid path while reminding consumers of the many benefits the smart grid offers to them and to the country.
Jesse Berst is the founder and chief analyst of Smart Grid News.com. He consults to smart grid companies seeking strategic and M&A advisory. A frequent keynoter at industry events in the US and abroad, he serves on the Advisory Council of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory's Energy & Environment Directorate.