U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu said Sept. 22 more than $144 million in funding is available from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for the electric power sector, including $44 million in awards to state public utility commissions and $100 million in funding for smart grid work force training programs.
Speaking at the GridWeek conference in Washington, Chu also announced $100 million in funding for the electric power industry, expanding job creation and career advancement opportunities associated with smart grids and electricity transmission projects. Chu added that the funding will also help establish training programs for workers in the utility industry and electrical manufacturing sectors.
Of the training programs, $35 million to $40 million is available to develop training programs, strategies and curricula that will be used as models for how to train or retrain workers in the electric power sector, with a focus on achieving a national, clean energy smart grid. This funding will be open to a range of applicants, including utilities, colleges and universities, trade schools, and labor organizations.
Another $60 million to $65 million is for conducting work force training programs for new hires and retraining programs for electric utility workers and electrical equipment manufacturers to further knowledge of smart grid technologies and their implementation.
"America cannot build a 21st-century energy economy with a mid-20th-century electricity system," Chu said. "This is why the Obama administration is investing in projects that will lay the foundation for a modernized, resilient electrical grid. By working with industry leaders and the private sector, we can drive the evolution to a clean, smart, national electricity system that will create jobs, reduce energy use, expand renewable energy production and cut carbon pollution."