The Department of Energy is increasing the size of its maximum grant for smart grid projects from $20 million to $200 million.
Companies that are investing in the smart grid can get half of their funding taken care of through these grants. For instance, the smart grid project announced in Miami invloving GE, FPL, Cisco and others, that is supposed to cost $200 million, could receive $100 million from the federal government.
Why is the DOE increasing the cap? Because big business cried and the DOE crumbled. From the DOE’s press release: “Secretary Chu also announced that based on feedback from the public and Smart Grid stakeholders, the Department of Energy is increasing the maximum award available under the Recovery Act for Smart Grid programs.”
There is almost $4 billion up for grabs from the stimulus bill and the battle for smart grid spending is being called “a lobbyists delight.” Unlike many alternative energy projects, the smart grid involves major corporations that already carry clout. Google, Cisco, IBM, PG&E, General Electric, are just a small sampling of the companies vying for smart grid money.
This lift in the cap appears to be a giant gift to companies investing in the smart grid space. Cisco today said it thinks the smart grid will be a $100 billion market that will be bigger than the internet. Does that seem like a market that needs the government scooting it along?
The idea behind the stimulus package was to spur investment and get people working, so on one level gifting these companies makes sense. It will spur them to invest. However, they’ll be investing in something they were likely to invest in regardless.
It’d be like the government declaring loaves of bread are half price. We we’re going to buy bread because we need it to eat, but if you’re going to cut the price, well, thanks.
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