As exciting as alternative energy is, all the wind turbines in the world are not going to replace dirty energy unless the power they generate can get to consumers. That requires a better, smarter power grid than the U.S. has now.
The Obama administration has been reasonably supportive of that goal, packing $4.5 billion for improving the grid into the stimulus bill back in 2009. And this morning, John Holdren, the White House's top science and technology advisor, and Energy Secretary Steven Chu, along with a few other high level officials, are trotting out a new report [PDF] on how to continue efforts to improve the grid efforts and announcing few new initiatives to keep the momentum going.
The new initiatives, however, aren't game-changing: $250 million in loans for rural towns to upgrade their infrastructure; a private-sector project called "Grid 21," which is supposed "promote consumer-friendly innovations"; a commitment to giving consumers more access to data about their energy use. These are all positive steps, but they're not the same as the president taking the stage and promising to throw everything we've got at building a next-generation grid to support the new energy sources coming online.
- A Policy Framework for a 21st Century Grid , White House Office of Science and Technology Policy
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