Washington, DC, U.S.A. — (METERING.COM) — September 23, 2009 – United States Energy Secretary Steven Chu has announced more than $144 million in stimulus funding for smart grid training activities, with $100 million for general workforce training and $44.3 million to support the state public utility commissions (PUCs).
This support for workforce training is intended to expand job creation and career advancement opportunities associated with smart grid and electricity transmission projects. In addition the initiative will help establish training programs for workers in the utility industry and electrical manufacturing sectors who will play a key role in modernizing the country’s electrical grid.
This funding will support two primary workforce training strategies. An amount of $35 million to $40 million will be allocated to developing training programs, strategies and curricula that will be used as models for how to train or retrain workers in the electric power sector, with a focus on achieving a national, clean energy smart grid. The balance of $60 million to $65 million will be allocated to conducting workforce training programs for new hires and retraining programs for electric utility workers and electrical equipment manufacturers to further knowledge of smart grid technologies and their implementation.
Between 25 to 35 training program development awards and 15 to 20 workforce training awards are anticipated, with awards of up to $2.5 million and $5 million in the two topics respectively.
The allocation to the state PUCs is to enable them to hire new staff and retrain existing employees to ensure they have the capacity to quickly and effectively review proposed electricity projects. The funds will help the PUCs accelerate their reviews of the large number of electric utility requests that are expected under the Recovery Act. State PUCs will be reviewing electric utility investments in projects such as energy efficiency, renewable energy, carbon capture and storage, transmission lines, energy storage, smart grid, demand response equipment, and electric and hybrid electric vehicles.
These programs will expand the United States’ capability to manufacture and install the electrical equipment and new technologies needed to implement the smart grid, and help ensure that the nation maintains its position as a global leader in innovation and technological advancement, the Department of Energy said in a statement.
“America cannot build a 21st century energy economy with a mid-20th century electricity system. This is why the Obama Administration is investing in projects that will lay the foundation for a modernized, resilient electrical grid,” said Secretary Chu. “By working with industry leaders and the private sector, we can drive the evolution to a clean, smart, national electricity system that will create jobs, reduce energy use, expand renewable energy production, and cut carbon pollution.”