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Using the stimulus to advance smarter energy use

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, signed by President Obama in February, includes tens of billions of dollars in federal stimulus funding for clean energy. This investment gives our country an unprecedented opportunity to rebuild our energy system and make it cleaner and more efficient. It's also an opportunity to become "smarter" about the way we all use energy.

Getting smart about energy starts with empowering consumers and businesses with information and tools to make better energy choices. That's why we submitted comments today with the Department of Energy, asking them to put consumers first as they develop one of the more promising elements of the ARRA -- a $4.5 billion grant program for "smart" grid investments. We also asked the DOE to ensure the program contributes to President Obama's goal of funding the installation of 40 million smart electricity meters in American homes. You can read our comments here.

The advent of smart meters, the Internet and a myriad of other information technologies means that our interaction with electricity can be dramatically redefined. Instead of receiving a monthly bill in the mail, for example, we can receive information on electricity use in real time; instead of turning on the furnace or the A/C when once you are home, we can automate these systems or even control them remotely. We can even aggregate energy savings from appliances and electronic equipment from thousands of homes to avoid the need to build new power plants.

Using the stimulus to invest in the electricity grid can help accelerate this transformation, while in the process creating jobs and helping to diversify our energy supply. Most importantly, these investments can help consumers and businesses save energy and money. We feel it's important for the country not to miss this opportunity.

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