Onvia, the research company responsible for creating the Recovery.org Web site, has released a report summarizing the potential impact of roughly 3,400 smart grid projects and energy technology initiatives that are funded (or at least partially funded) by the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA). So, if you're looking for one place where you can read up on the various smart grid projects that have been awarded, as well as their progress, you can visit this two resources.
The economic stimulus act earmarked an overall amount of about $3.4 billion for energy grid modernization. That includes about $1 billion for initiatives specifically intended to help consumers save energy or reduce their utility bills (think smart meters); $400 million or so for making electricity distribution more efficient; and roughly $2 billion to the information and communications infrastructure to help get relevant data from point A to point B. That doesn't even count the $1.6 billion that has been set aside for Clean Renewable Energy Bonds. And don't forget the roughly $4.7 billion that is required in private investment in order to accompany the federal ARRA smart grid funding.
The smart grid projects in the pipeline are likely to create the most jobs in the southeast United States, although the highest salaries will likely be in New England.
Another interesting observation: Many planned smart grid projects haven't yet gotten under way even though the government was hoping to kickstart quick progress. The top contractors right now are ABB, Cisco, General Electric, Honeywell International, Siemens and Silver Spring Networks. Says Onvia CEO Mike Pickett: "We witnessed a flurry of activity in the second half of 2009, which signals agencies are ready to advertise and award huge sums to contractors so they can get started."
Here's hoping that the usual idiocy that accompanies many government-funded construction projects doesn't slow things down. I realize it's not an exact analogy, but remember how urgent it was to rebuild the devastated World Trade Center in New York? Almost 10 years later, there's still a remarkable lack of progress at the site. The smart grid construction imperative is obviously much much more daunting. I hope that those projects, which are even more vital to our nation's future and national security, don't suffer the same delays.