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Remarks by the president on Recovery Act funding for smart grid technology

October 27, 2009|Office of the Press Secretary | The White House

ARCADIA, FLORIDA — DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, guys. Thank you very much. Please, have a seat. Thank you so much.

Well, first of all, let me thank Lew Hay and his visionary leadership at Florida Power & Light. It's an example of a company that is doing well by doing good. And I think it's a model for what we could duplicate all across the country.

To Greg Bove, who just gave me the tour and was a construction manager for this facility, congratulations. We've got a couple of special guests here: Representative Kathy Castor from Tampa, a great friend. (Applause.) Arcadia Mayor Dr. Roosevelt Johnson. (Applause.) And State Representative Keith Fitzgerald from Sarasota. (Applause.)

And I want to once again thank Lew for the generous introduction. I want to congratulate you and all the workers who are involved in this outstanding facility for Florida Power & Light.

It's an honor to be here on a very big day not just for Arcadia but for the cause of clean energy in America. With the flip of a switch, FP&L will -- has moved the solar panels behind me into a position where they can catch the sun's rays. And now, for the very first time, a large-scale solar power plant -- the largest of its kind in the entire nation -- will deliver electricity produced by the sun to the citizens of the Sunshine State. And I think it's about time. (Applause.)

This plant will produce enough power to serve the entire city of Arcadia. Its construction was a boost to your local economy, creating nearly 400 jobs in this area. And over the next three decades, the clean energy from this plant will save 575,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions, which is the equivalent of removing more than 4,500 cars from the road each year for the life of the project. Think about that, 45,000 [sic] cars from the road each year for the life of the project.

And yet, to realize the full potential of this plant and others like it, we've got to do more than just add extra solar megawatts to our electrical grid. That's because this grid -- which is made up of everything from power lines to generators to the meters in your home -- still runs on century-old technology. It wastes too much energy, it costs us too much money, and it's too susceptible to outages and blackouts.

To offer one analogy, just imagine what transportation was like in this country back in the 1920s and 1930s before the Interstate Highway System was built. It was a tangled maze of poorly maintained back roads that were rarely the fastest or the most efficient way to get from point A to point B. Fortunately, President Eisenhower made an investment that revolutionized the way we travel -- an investment that made our lives easier and our economy grow.

Now, it's time to make the same kind of investment in the way our energy travels -- to build a clean energy superhighway that can take the renewable power generated in places like DeSoto and deliver it directly to the American people in the most affordable and efficient way possible. Such an investment won't just create new pathways for energy -- it's expected to create tens of thousands of new jobs all across America in areas ranging from manufacturing and construction to IT and the installation of new equipment in homes and in businesses. It's expected to save consumers more than $20 billion over the next decade on their utility bills. And I know nobody minds seeing their utility bills cut. I'm sorry, Lew, but they really don't mind that. (Laughter.) It will make our grid more secure and more reliable, saving us some of the $150 billion we lose each year during power outages. It will allow us to more effectively transport renewable energy generated in remote places to large population centers, so that a wind farm in rural South Dakota can power homes in Chicago. And by facilitating the creation of a clean energy economy, building this 21st century energy infrastructure will help us lay a foundation for lasting growth and prosperity.

So that's why today, I'm pleased to announce that under the Recovery Act, we are making the largest-ever investment in a smarter, stronger, and more secure electric grid. This investment will come in the form of 100 grants totaling $3.4 billion -- grants that will go to private companies, utilities, cities, and other partners who have applied with plans to install smart grid technologies in their area.

And throughout this week, the members of my Cabinet are going to be fanning across the country talking about some of the winning projects. Some of the projects involve modernizing old, inefficient transmission lines that just waste too much energy. And to speed that process along, nine federal agencies have signed an agreement that will help break down the bureaucratic barriers that currently make it slow and costly to build new transmission lines on federal lands.

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