GREEN

Smart Grid Spending: "More Than A Game Of Catchup"

04/04/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

President Obama's economic stimulus bill places emphasis on green spending, including catapulting the country's energy grid into its next generation -- a "smart grid." It's just one example of how the president is trying to rebuild the economy and set new priorities by setting fiscal policy early in his tenure.

Obama's $787 billion economic stimulus bill includes $4.5 billion in funding for the so-called Smart Grid, an ambitious plan to modernize the country's electric grid that many Obama contributors are helping to shape.

Among the companies with significant stakes in the Smart Grid are technology giants Google, Microsoft and IBM, whose employees were top donors -- and, in some cases, advisers -- to Obama's campaign last year.

A piece in the New York Times points out that, appropriately, the money has to be spent wisely for a smart grid to work, hence the hold-up:

Smart grid operation standards have not been designated yet despite a provision in the 2007 energy bill calling for the Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology to come up with standards with the help of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and other organizations so that the technology can easily communicate on the same platform -- a concept known as interoperability. That lapse combined with the general lack of public knowledge about the smart grid and how to manage energy in real-time could be a recipe for failure, Murkowski said.

"We are playing more than a game of catchup here," Murkowski said. "This is too important to get it wrong."

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