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Obama awards $3.4 billion in 'smart grid' grants

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Implementing smart-grid technologies could reduce electricity use nationwide by more than 4 percent by 2030, according to an analysis by the Electric Power Research Institute. That would save $20.4 billion in energy costs for businesses and consumers around the country.

Smart meters

The funding will accelerate deployment of technologies such as "smart meters" that allow customers and utilities to measure energy use digitally with real-time measurement. The information, which can be displayed on a website or a display in the home, lets utilities work closely with customers to reduce energy use during peak load periods as well as overall reductions.

FPL plans to use its $200 million award to help install some 2.6 million smart meters that would help Floridians save up to $1.6 billion by the year 2030.

"Finally we have a technology that will benefit regular consumers - not just the guy driving his BMW home to fire up his hot tub," says Katherine Hamilton, president of the GridWise Alliance, a coalition of companies working to promote smart-grid technology. "This funding will deploy technology that allows everyone to understand how they use energy and give them tools to adjust their energy usage."

That's been happening already in pockets around the country. One $200 million award went to help
install smart meters for many more of the 1.2 million customers of Baltimore Gas & Electric (BGE). This summer 1,000 Baltimore residents who participated in a smart-grid demonstration project slashed peak energy usage by one-third, according to Ken DeFontes, president of BGE. A survey found nearly all of them asked to continue being able to see their energy use moment by moment.

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