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Obama to unveil $3.4 billion in “smart grid” grants today in Florida, including $200 million to FPL

by George Bennett | October 27th, 2009

Obama will visit this solar facility in DeSoto County today

Obama will visit this solar facility in DeSoto County today

ARCADIA — Using a large Florida Power & Light solar energy facility outside this small town as a backdrop, President Obama today will announce $3.4 billion in federal grants to 100 different “smart grid” energy projects around the U.S.

The Obama administration says the grants, which are part of the $787 billion economic stimulus package approved this year, will create or save “tens of thousands” of jobs while making the nation’s electricity network more reliable and efficient and more compatible with renewable energy sources.

FPL is getting a $200 million grant for its program of technological upgrades that include installing more than 2.6 million “smart meters” in homes to provide more detailed consumption information to customers and enable them to reduce energy use and cut their bills.

Obama will tour FPL’s $152 million Next Generation Solar Energy Center, billed as the largest solar farm of its kind with 90,000 photovoltaic panels that convert sunlight to energy on 180 acres in DeSoto County. The solar center produces 25 megawatts of power, or enough to supply about 3,000 homes. By comparison, FPL’s gas- and oil-fired plant in Riviera Beach plant provides energy for 190,000 homes.

Carol Browner, a former head of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection who is now an assistant to the president for energy and climate change, said FPL’s DeSoto County solar plant is an example of integrating renewable resources into the power grid.

During a Monday night briefing for reporters on the grants, Browner called the nation’s current power system “outdated” and “dilapidated.”

She noted that some have compared the development of the smart grid to the building of the Interstate highway system in the 1950s.

“That was about building so many miles,” Browner said. “This is about more than building miles of wires. This is about really making something function in a modern way so consumers can have better choices, we can manage the flow of electricity and we can bring renewables into the system.”

The recipients of the $3.4 billion in smart-grid grants are matching the federal money with a combined $4.7 million in private investment, Browner said. FPL is putting up $380 million for to match the $200 million federal grant.

“With these grants we’re going to unleash the vast potential of our economy to develop the infrastructure that will support the president’s goal of replacing demand for foreign fossil fuels with renewable energy produced here at home,” said Jared Bernstein, the chief economic policy adviser to Vice President Joe Biden.

The administration cited an analysis by the Electric Power Research Institute that says smart grid technologies could reduce electricity use by more than 4 percent by 2030 and save more than $20 billion in energy costs.

The grants will be used to pay for 18 million smart meters, administration officials said. Other consumer-focused measures include installation of more than 1 million in-home displays, 170,000 smart thermostats, and 175,000 other load control devices to enable consumers to reduce their energy use.

For power companies and grid operators, the grants will pay for more than 200,000 “smart transformers,” 850 sensors and 700 automated substations that will provide more information and help prevent minor disturbances from cascading into major outages or blackouts.

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10 Responses to “Obama to unveil $3.4 billion in “smart grid” grants today in Florida, including $200 million to FPL”

  1. carlbauer Says:

    You can find a job easily with a Culinary Degree from a College. Yes it is a rewarding Career. More info about the degree at

  2. Mike Licht Says:

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


  3. OBIWAN Says:

    Just crapola — energywise!!

    Nukular Power is GREEN!! The US could have instead ordered all 103 Nukular Plant Operators to double their reactor numbers and upgrade their steam generators. The US Nukular power electricity generation would go from 20% to over 50% in ten years. THAT would have cost around $500 Billion in 20 year LOANS for the “Manhattan” mandatory projects – a little more than half the SPENDULUST Waste, Fraud and Abuse that will never be repaid and never provide ANY real benefit…….

    All those “smart” technology items will go downstream to the NannyState Welfarers – yes, just more income redistribution from the Chief Marxist and his thugs!!

    The better method was to incorporate on the standard ten year meter changeout as a new technology requirement of all Electric Power Utilities…like they do anything they find will make them operating profit!

    One new Nukular power plant would add more electical generation than all those solar “experiments” for the next decade… Elsewhere in the world it is reported 151 new Nukular power plants are under construction???

  4. FutureMan Says:

    (Our) FPL built the largest solar plant in the country? Cool!

  5. Jonny B Says:

    Kind of misleading to say that the Desoto plant is the largest solar facility in the US when anyone who follows this stuff already knows the largest solar plant is in Arizona but ok. Sure.

    And to my “Nukular” friend; nuclear energy IS alot better than fossil fuels but what are you going to do with all that waste? Nevada doesn’t want it and I’m pretty sure most Floridians don’t either. Maybe we should just ship it all to Iraq after we get the troops out. Finally, that region will serve a purpose other than oil! Solar, on the other hand, doesn’t have much in the way of a waste by-product. I’m just saying is all…

  6. peggy arvanitas Says:

    Like I said in my previous blogs about “FP&L” there is a reason they are speeding up approval so Floridians can pay for new plants. “All dressed up and no one to charge” in Florida , that is not the program for FP&L. As the Bush administration tried to allow RTO electric consortiums in regions, now FP&L sees whatever energy Floridians pay to create can make electricity that can be exported out to neighboring states . That is why they have been pushing for an electric grid infastructure ungrade.

  7. edward luscinskas Says:

    Green technology is our only hope of getting jobs back to this country. Some of these will be truly local & not outsourceable. We need to be smart & invest in this new technology so we will be shipping these new products instead of importing them. We’re already behind Germany & others but it’s not too late to catch up.; true patriots are those who will get behind this one hope to get good jobs back while simultaneously saving our planet.

  8. Green Guy Says:

    Kudos to the PBC County Commission for taking the lead on Green Energy. They are going to build a waste energy facility that will generate electricity from garbage and non recycleables. These facilities reduce what goes into landfills which is a leading producer of methane which is one of the leading causes of global warming. THINK GREEN!!

  9. Unemployed Says:

    I’m one of the many people looking for work right now and would love to work on some green projects. Many others are looking too:

    I hope that FPL can build other solar projects, install more smart meters and create many new jobs.

  10. Stimulus Money Being Given Out | Federal Bailout Grants Says:

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