The Trail: A Daily Diary of Campaign 2008



Obama to announce billions in energy-efficiency grants

By Michael A. Fletcher
MIAMI--President Obama plans to unveil Tuesday $3.4 billion in grants for "smart meters," updated transformers, and other devices that will allow consumers, cities, utilities and other businesses to become more efficient users and producers of energy.

The grants, which administration officials said leveraged another $4.7 billion in private investment, will pay for upgrades to the nation's outdated electric grid and will make it easier to integrate solar and wind and other forms of renewable energy.

The administration says money spent on upgrading the nation's energy distribution system will create tens of thousands of new jobs for factory workers, installers, system designers and others, while giving customers and utilities more control over how they use and pay for energy.

The grants were funded in the $787 billion economic stimulus package enacted in February. Obama will announce the recipients as he visits what is touted as the nation's largest solar-powered electric plant as it opens Tuesday in Arcadia, Fla.

The upgrades will make it possible for grid operators to better monitor the power delivery system and prevent minor disturbances from snowballing into regional power outages or large blackouts.
The administration chose 100 recipients for the grants, which range from $400,000 to $200 million.

The money will also buy 18 million smart meters, which allow consumers to monitor electrical demand and prices in real time, giving them the information to use certain appliances when demand and prices are lowest.

The grants for the smart grid are aimed at helping to make renewable energy more economically viable and allowing utilities in the nation's population centers to more efficiently harness renewable energy, which is often produced in remote areas.

The administration is counting on the renewable energy sector to be a huge source of jobs in the future as the nation emerges from its deep recession.

The stimulus included tens of billions dollars in money for renewable energy research and to make public buildings more energy-efficient.

Posted at 6:00 AM ET on Oct 27, 2009  | Category:  Economy
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Conspiracy theories aside, this is one of the investments proposed in the stimulus that has the potential to do a lot of good. Efficiency and modernization is key for the long term viability of our grid. I'm happy to see some follow-through on this initiative.

Posted by: trident420 | October 27, 2009 3:44 PM

The King doles out the spoils ( " Thank you, Your Majesty " )

Posted by: clankie | October 27, 2009 12:58 PM

I am awfully thankful we have a young president to think future and modernism. Technology and what it offers is needed to move the country into the 21st Century.

Bravo to Mr. Obama for taking these giant steps to move us forward.

Posted by: Victoria5 | October 27, 2009 11:33 AM

Yes, "WTF": most civilized socialist countries whose philosophy is to control every aspect of people's lives in order to pinch every last red cent out of them do "ration" electricity. That doesn't make it right.

Posted by: sandynh | October 27, 2009 11:23 AM

The President and HIS Congress are giving money away willy-nilly - where is it coming from? Did I miss National Greenback Arbor day?

Posted by: us1156 | October 27, 2009 11:08 AM

This is an important new program in helping the nation move toward a viable long-term approach to energy usage, and away from dependence on fossil fuels and reliance on imported sources of energy. It should also reduce the cost of energy to consumers.

While there is always room for disagreement, I am disappointed in and offended by the insulting language of some of the comments--this undermines our ability as a people to have the kind of discussion which we need to maintain a strong democracy. I am also surprised that the Washington Post publishes these--they seem to me to violate its policies on what comments it will post.

Posted by: realistforpeaceandjustice | October 27, 2009 10:46 AM

3.4 billion to invest in technologies that DO NOT NEED GOVERNMENT INVESTMENT!

Fact: Energy Companies should pay for this themselves. If they don't want to, incentivize them to do it through tax breaks, NOT FREE MONEY!!!

Fact: Smart Meters = 15 cent timerswitch. Why the millions of them? Who, in their right mind, would let the government monitor and control their power to their own place? Do we need to establish private community power plants within each state to avoid Federal Government Regulation under the 10th Amendment?

This is all BS... Incentivize industry to create and deploy a smart-grid infrastructure as our founding fathers envisioned... Giving things to people just invites waste, fraud and failed goals.

Posted by: ProveMeWrong | October 27, 2009 10:35 AM

A cowboy from Texas attends a social function where Barack Obama is trying to gather more support for his Health Plan.

Once Mr. President discovers the cowboy is from President Bush’s home area, he starts to belittle him by talking in a southern drawl and using mono-syllabic words

As he was doing that, he kept swatting at some flies that were buzzing around his head .

The cowboy asks, "Y'all havin' some problem with them circle flies?"

Obama stopped talking and said, "Well, yes, if that's what they're called, but I've never heard of circle flies."

"Well, sir," the cowboy replies, "circle flies hang around ranches. They're called circle flies because they're almost always found circling around the back end of a horse."

"Oh," Obama replies as he goes back to rambling. But, a moment later he stops and bluntly asks, "Are you calling me a horse's ass?"

"No, sir," the cowboy replies, "I have too much respect for the citizens of this country to call their president a horse's ass."

"That's a good thing," Obama responds and begins rambling on once more

After a long pause, the cowboy, in his best Texas drawl says, "Hard to fool them flies, though . . ."

Posted by: KBlit | October 27, 2009 10:26 AM

I smell the announcement of a smart grid Czar coming. I have to assume Obozzo has narrowed the possible candidates down to only those who are grossly negligent in paying their power bills.

Maybe he can make the announcement at the same time he announces the:
golf czar,
basketball Czar,
new dog Czar,
vacation Czar,
I'm too stupid to make a decision regarding Afghanistan Czar
let's play the race card Czar
media tour Czar
my staff are leaving me in droves Czar
my wife really isn't James Brown in drag czar
and Obozzo's personal favorite - make some more room under the bus for friends and family

Posted by: Bcamp55 | October 27, 2009 10:02 AM

-WTF? "Pay attention people. What is really intended with this "smart grid" technology is to ration electricity."

What planet are you from? Most civilized countries are already using smart meters which allow electicity costs to be less at night and on weekends.-

Well, acctually several of them do ration electricity. However the main point is not to ration, but to change comsumer usage patterns with dynamic pricing. The more load on the system the higher the price. The power grid is kind of like a car. The turbines have a peak fuel economy. You may get 500 megawatts using 800 units of fuel (natural gas, coal, diesel, etc.), but to get 800 megawatts you might use 1600 units of fuel. To get 1000 it may take 2500 units. The cost can go up really fast.

If the consumer gets real time feedback as to the current price they might think twice about running the clothes dryer during the day or keeping air conditioner going full blast while they aren't at home. That also creates a fair pricing scheme where conservative power users don't pay an extra share of the cost for energy wasters.

Posted by: akmzrazor | October 27, 2009 9:59 AM

WTF? "Pay attention people. What is really intended with this "smart grid" technology is to ration electricity."

What planet are you from? Most civilized countries are already using smart meters which allow electicity costs to be less at night and on weekends.

Posted by: dbert4 | October 27, 2009 9:09 AM

Obama will do anything to please General Electric, one of Obama's biggest backers and owner of the rabidly pro-Obama NBC MSNBC. The money trail of the "smart meters" leads directly to Obama's corporate sweetheart, General Electric Corp.

This comes one day after Obama announces a "Muslim Technology Fund" giveaway of up to $150 million to assist Muslim nations in gaining access to high technology. GE or one of Obama's other backers will probably be on the receiving end of this giveway as well. The gentleman's agreement will be that the 150 million must be spent on a US corporate backer of Obama.

Posted by: NAuchi | October 27, 2009 8:24 AM

What exactly is being proposed here? Upgrading the nation's outdated electrical grid and distribution system sounds a lot like putting up more power lines like the TrAIL and PATH projects in WV to feed the East Coast. We need to move away from mountaintop removal, coal-fired power plants, carbon dioxide emissions, global warming, etc. We need to stop destroying the environment to allegedly create jobs.

Posted by: JimJoe | October 27, 2009 8:09 AM

Pay attention people. What is really intended with this "smart grid" technology is to ration electricity.

Posted by: sandynh | October 27, 2009 7:53 AM

Obama never misses a chance to fly on Air Force One. It would be nice if he could spend 10 days in DC without getting on Air Force One for any lame reason.

Posted by: ahashburn | October 27, 2009 7:49 AM

What the white house is attempting to do, is to address the failures of the, "private sector". Unfortunately he's choosing to do it with corporate welfare rather than by nationalizing the electric grid as should happening. The utilities have proven several time over that they are too greed to be trusted with a national resource.

Posted by: dbert4 | October 27, 2009 7:44 AM

Seems like the only things the A hole in the White House touts are how he and the corrupt democrats in Congress are wasting our tax dollars.

The incompetent nitwit and his cabal of eggheads still don't get it, and jobs continue to be lost.

What a disgusting failure Odumbo and his band of leftists are.

Are you class envy nitwits still proud of this slug you elected?

Posted by: LarryG62 | October 27, 2009 7:33 AM

What's the biggest threat to America’s power grid?


Posted by: MikeLicht | October 27, 2009 7:21 AM

There is always a good demand for Chefs with Culinary Degree in this county. Get your Culinary Degree in few months at

Posted by: carlbauer2710 | October 27, 2009 6:33 AM

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