U.S. Utilities Scramble for Smart-Grid Stimulus Cash

By Eileen O'Grady on September 18, 2009

With more requests than money, the U.S. Department of Energy faces the tough task of allocating more than $4 billion among hundreds of utilities that want to modernize the country's aging electricity grid.

Like bees to honey, utilities of all sizes are swarming a DOE program offering stimulus money to create a "smart grid" with systems offering consumers control over energy use, utilities an ability to shorten power outages and wind and solar power generators more access to power-hungry cities.

As the contest for the federal grants heats up, utilities are left guessing how the DOE will prioritize the requests. Many worry that if the funds are spread too thinly, the program may do little to meet its ambitious goal.

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