Smart Grid Could Create 280,000 Smart Jobs

A new energy-efficient infrastructure could be coming to the U.S. with the new administration, and up to 280,000 new jobs could be created from the deployment of smart grid technology alone. That’s according to a report released today by the GridWise Alliance, a smart grid industry group.

And the job creation isn’t likely to stop there. The report said federal investment in a smart grid could lead to an unspecified, but substantially larger, number of indirect jobs as well, with the technology enabling other types of cleantech, including plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles, distributed renewable energy and smart appliances.

Smart grids use a number of technologies networked together to give utilities new capabilities, such as automated meter reading, data collection, voltage monitoring and notification of outages, as well as remote control of customer loads for demand-response systems.

Prepared by Dutch energy consultant KEMA, a member of GridWise, the report said more than 150,000 jobs could come as soon as this year, with the remaining 140,000 jobs coming in by 2012. Not all of the jobs for the smart grid are permanent, though, with a large number associated only with the deployment and installation phase. The alliance said that 140,000 jobs are expected to continue through 2018.

GridWise said that President-elect Barack Obama has promoted a plan for smart grid incentives that would compensate qualifying projects for up to 25 percent of the initial investment cost. If the U.S. government were to put up $16 billion in smart grid incentives over the next four years, it could drive $64 billion in smart grid projects, according to the report.

A similar study from IBM shows some similar, but more accelerated, results for smart grid investments. IBM’s study, conducted by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, a Washington, D.C., think tank, found that if the government invested $10 billion in smart grids in 2009 it would create 239,000 jobs by the end of the year.

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