Steve Hauser, CEO, GridWise Alliance started a new initiative to advocate for the inclusion of funding for grid investments in any stimulus package Congress may develop in response to the economic downturn and the global pandemic. GridWise Alliance and its members support at least $25 billion in federal spending on grid modernization to help the country meet clean energy goals, enhance resilience and security, and replace ageing infrastructure.
Most states and utilities are actively exploring options for modernizing their electric grids to replace ageing infrastructure, facilitate the integration of renewable energy, increase reliability and resilience, and provide new services to consumers. The needs are significant. The Brattle Group, in a report for the Edison Electric Institute, estimated that the electric utility industry will need to spend about $1.5 to $2 trillion from 2010 to 2030 just to maintain the reliability of electric service. This does not include the additional billions that customers may spend on their own equipment and self-generation.
Pre COVID-19, smart grid investments were projected to reach almost $14 billion a year by 2024, and utilities were projected to spend more than $100 billion on networking and communications equipment1 over the next decade. The grid’s owners and operators now facing unprecedented financial challenges of low demand and unpaid bills are likely to scale back those investments.
Tom Deitrich, President and CEO, Itron said: “The challenges brought about by COVID-19 have demonstrated the need for a more robust infrastructure for our country, especially during times of crisis. Understanding the resulting pandemic-driven economic downturn we’re living through, and the accelerative effect of government spending on the national economy, there is no better time to upgrade this Nation’s ageing utility infrastructure, securing the many cascading public benefits that advanced grid technologies bring to utility service – improving public safety, enabling low carbon distributed and renewable generation, and enhancing reliability and resiliency.”