Under the Energy Working Group of the Presidential Bi-national Commission, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has started implementation of a smart grid partnership program in cooperation with the United States Department of Energy and the United States Energy Association (USEA), an association of public and private energy-related organizations, corporations, and government agencies.
Jonathan Hale, the USAID’s Deputy Assistant Administrator for Europe and Eurasia, says, “This new U.S. – Russia cooperation will enable utilities to reduce harmful emissions, including greenhouse gases, by enhancing their ability to help consumers use energy more efficiently; integrate and deliver renewable energy; and more efficiently transmit and deliver electricity to consumers. It is a win-win effort for the U.S., Russia, and the global environment.”
Smart grids are being promoted by many governments as a way of addressing energy independence, global warming, and emergency resilience issues.
During visits by a Russian delegation to Austin Energy and CenterPoint Energy in Texas, and the reciprocal visit of an American delegation to Russia, a work plan for a two-year cooperative effort developed. A smart grid partnership between the cities of San Diego and Belgorod is also developing.
Jeff Vice, director of local government relations with Austin Energy, explains, “As the electric system adapts, we are trying to figure out what the business model is going to be. Power is not going to be pushed centrally and one way through the grid. It’s a much more fluid environment, homes are going to be built much more efficiently, and consumers are better educated. It’s not just about adopting one of the pieces of smart grid, it’s about creating new policies.”
Since March 2009, CenterPoint Energy Houston Electric has installed more than 267,000 smart meters and, funded by a $200 million stimulus grant, expects to complete installation of over two million smart meters, with communications infrastructure and computing systems, in 2012.