Efficient And Smart Ways To Fix The Economy  

Posted by Big Gav in ,

CNN reports that Obama is planning an economic stimulus package based on energy efficient buildings and improved internet access - Obama outlines initiative to create 2.5 million jobs.

President-elect Barack Obama on Saturday outlined some of his plan to create 2.5 million jobs by 2011, and said he will push for immediate action by Congress when he takes office in January.

Obama wants to make public buildings more energy-efficient, repair roads and bridges, modernize schools, increase broadband access and ensure that health care professionals have access to the latest technology. "Our government now pays the highest energy bill in the world," he said in the weekly Democratic radio address.

"We need to upgrade our federal buildings by replacing old heating systems and installing efficient light bulbs. That won't just save you, the American taxpayer, billions of dollars each year. It will put people back to work." Video Watch how bad roads lead to good jobs »

In addition, he said, "It is unacceptable that the United States ranks 15th in the world in broadband adoption. Here, in the country that invented the Internet, every child should have the chance to get online.

The CNN report doesn't mention grid expansion and (smart grid) modernisation, but the WSJ does - Stimulus Push Gets Greener Tint.
The goal is to create a portfolio of programs, according to transition officials. Some initiatives, including tax rebates and traditional infrastructure projects like road repaving, would inject money into the economy immediately. Others would kick into gear months after enactment. For instance, a massive expansion of the federal program to weatherize homes and federal buildings would include a six-month training period for new workers.

Complex green infrastructure initiatives -- such as building renewable energy plants, improving the electrical grid and installing "smart" meters that allow consumers to reap benefits from using electricity at off-peak hours -- would take effect well into the second year.

The recovery package also will include tax relief, though what form it will take remains unclear. Many Democrats want to include a rebate of perhaps $500. Other initiatives, like a broadening of the child credit and payroll-tax relief, are also under consideration.

Green-technology advocates, for their part, want to include such elements as a multiyear extension of a tax credit for investment in wind power, plus another credit for solar-power makers. All told, they estimate the green component could be $50 billion, or 10% of the overall package.

"America's unique excellence is innovation, and it's easy to understand businesses that innovate are the ones that have the longest and largest kinds of impact," said Eric Schmidt, chief executive of Google Inc. and an Obama economic adviser, in an interview. "You would want to invest in something that would not just physically build a bridge, but would help build businesses that would create more wealth."

GreenTech Media reports that the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) says "bringing information and communications technology to the nation's power grid could reduce America's electricity usage by up to 4.3 percent by 2030" - EPRI Plugs Smart Grid for Energy Savings.
Companies looking to make money by making the nation's electricity grid smarter just got a big stamp of approval from the Electric Power Research Institute.
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Smart grid technologies – information and communications equipment and software that track and control electricity generation, transmission and usage – could help America reduce its future electricity needs by 200 billion kilowatt-hours, or 4.3 percent, by 2030, according to a report released Thursday by the Palo Alto-based research organization.

The report studied on-the-ground examples of smart grid technologies, then considered how they'd work if adopted in a widespread manner, said Omar Siddiqui, EPRI's energy efficiency program manager. "It doesn't discuss how we get there, but rather, if we had these features, what could we expect to see?" he said.

Right now the "smart grid" is more idea than reality, though its building blocks are being laid. Utilities have been pushing deployments of smart meters, which can monitor and transmit information on customers' energy usage, for some time now (see SCE Preps $1.63B Smart-Meter Program Silver Spring Smart Meters Get New Homes). They've also been installing demand and response systems, which seek to control the use of power to avoid blackouts and reduce peak-time consumption.

All that activity has been directing the attention of venture capitalists and other investors to companies in the smart grid arena. In the third quarter, VCs invested more money in smart grid and efficiency than biofuels, pushing smart grid to the number two spot in greentech investing (see Acquisitions in Smart Grid: Get Used to It).

Companies in the field include Comverge (NSDQ: COMV), Echelon (NSDQ: ELON), EnerNOC (NASD: ENOC), GainSpan, GridNet, GridPoint, Itron Inc. (NSDQ: ITRI), Landis+Gyr, Silver Spring Networks, SmartSynch and Trilliant, to name a few.

SmartMeters.com has a post on a group called Environment Texas and their plans to clean up Texas' energy supply - Environmentalists say plan will revitalise economy.
A group of advocates for the environment have put forward a strategy they claim would breathe new life into the Texas economy. The plan calls for significant investments into smart meter technology and renewable power generation. State officials say this strategy is already coming to fruition.

The advocacy group, called Environment Texas, has formed a coalition of 100 like-minded Texans who are calling on state lawmakers to adapt policies that encourage clean and efficient energy usage through the use of new technology.

“Our economy is struggling and unstable energy prices are only making things worse,” said Alexis Illyn, field organizer for Environment Texas at a press conference held last week in Waco, Texas. “But Texas has the technological prowess and vast resources of renewable energy from the sun, wind and crops that can revitalise our economy, power the nation, create thousands of high-paying manufacturing jobs and renew Texas’ role as the energy capital of the world.”

Key points within the Environment Texas plan call for state lawmakers to:

* Establish a mandate that would require utilities reduce energy usage by 1 percent annually by 2015 and then 2 percent annually by 2020

* Establish incentives for the development of 4 gigawatts of solar power by the year 2020

* Establish building codes that increase efficiency standards for new homes by 15 percent every three years

* Require specific household appliances meet standards for efficiency

* Provide help for local governments, schools, and universities through low-interest loans so they can make energy-efficiency improvements

According to State Senator Troy Fraser, the aforementioned steps have already been taken but he appreciates the group coming forward with the proposal. ...

Illyn acknowledges the progress the state has made but believes much more still can be done. She cites statistics from the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy that rank Texas 25th in the country in terms of utility investment in energy efficiency. The council goes on to extrapolate that if Texas made major investments in energy efficiency that consumers in the state would save $5 billion in energy costs over the next 15 years. Air pollution from power plants would be reduced by 20 percent and more than 38,000 high-paying jobs would be created, according to the group.

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