Electric grid to get a stimulus boost

Harvey Wasserman

TEXT OF INTERVIEW

Bill Radke: President Obama will announce almost $3.5 billion in stimulus grants today. The money going to upgrade what the White House calls the smart electric grid. Renewable-energy advocate Harvey Wasserman is a senior adviser to Greenpeace. And he's here to tell us more about this power grid upgrade. Good morning.

Harvey Wasserman: Good morning. How are you?

Radke: Very well, thank you. What is a smart grid?

Wasserman: Well a smart grid is a method of distributing electricity a little more efficiently, with more information given. It will encourage people to use appliances and so on when rates are lower and the demand is lower.

Radke: What are we going to learn about these projects?

Wasserman: I think we're going to learn a lot more about how homes really use electricity. With $3.5 billion, we're going to get a pretty good sampling. The bottom line is we really don't know that much about how homes can be made more efficient, and where we can make our best strides forward to make homes, offices and factories self-sufficient.

Radke: Almost $3.5 billion. When do you think we'll recover that cost in savings?

Wasserman: Well that's going to be a big part of the experiment is to see what kind of cost recovery we get from the smart grid. Overall, we're going to learn a pretty good deal about what energy generation on a local level is going to be like. You see, the smart grid really is kind of an experiment on our way to a solar-topian solution to energy economy, which is going to have to be based on green sources, which is not now.

Radke: Harvey Wasserman, senior adviser to Greenpeace, author of "Solartopia," thank you.

Wasserman: Thank you.

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