U.S. Stimulus Plan smart grid funding should focus on smart metering

Howard Scott,
Managing Director,
Cognyst Advisors
New York, NY, U.S.A. — (METERING.COM) — February 2, 2009 – The United States Stimulus Plan should focus its smart grid funding on smart metering, industry expert Howard Scott argues in a new White Paper, “A Call to Action: Implementing the Smart Grid Initiatives in President Obama’s Stimulus Plan,” for key decision makers in government and the industry.

Pointing out that a key focus of the Stimulus Plan is rapid job creation Scott says that widespread deployment of smart meters can add a significant number of new jobs quickly.

Products are also available. Although much of the smart grid industry is still in its infancy, a key part – smart metering – is mature and millions of end points have already been deployed. Smart meters also enable consumers to deliver energy into the grid as well as to consume energy from the grid – a feature that opens the door for many secondary benefits, such as efficiency and environmental improvements, which will provide long term benefits to the United States.

Furthermore, a smart grid cannot exist without smart metering. A key part of operating a smart grid is to understand in real time what each customer is consuming from the grid and delivering into the grid. The only source of this information is smart metering. And unlike other smart grid investments, an investment in smart metering does not cripple future industry growth to provide short term benefits, but enhances that growth.

Scott notes that the Stimulus Plan provides $4.5 billion for the smart grid to be matched with an additional $4.5 billion by utilities over the next two years.

“Though $9 billion is a large number, it is a small fraction of the total cost to upgrade America’s energy grid,” Scott says. As the concept of a smart grid is still in its infancy and the Stimulus Plan funding is to quickly create large numbers of new jobs, “it is clear that this money must be spent to both maximize employment and provide key infrastructure needed for smart grids,” he adds.

Potential jobs created under this scheme could include 10,000 equipment installers and 10,000 software engineers with job duration of four years or more.

Scott says the smart metering industry has already committed itself to proactively support the Stimulus Plan. Specifically, the industry is now working on several initiatives, including getting their own businesses ready to deliver smart metering products at the volume levels needed for rapid nationwide deployment, and assisting utilities, regulators, installation companies and the Department of Energy so that projects will be ready when the Stimulus funding is available.

However, the smart metering industry recognizes that time is critical and waiting to start smart grid projects further delays the nation’s recovery.

“The smart metering industry is confident that it is ready now to supply its share of smart grid technology,” says Scott. “The vendors in this industry are proud to offer their services to achieve the objectives of President Obama as he fights to solve our economic crisis. Furthermore, these vendors are already working with many other industry participants whose support is necessary to bring this bold Stimulus Plan to completion.”