Chuck Conconi is the host of online video series Focus Washington. He interviewed Birnbaum last week.
"Chuck Conconi: I'm going to ask you to be a little bit technical at this particular point. Summarize the key provisions for the Department of energy's proposed outlines for this.
Jay Birnbaum: Well the stimulus package actually broke down the Smart Grid funding into two separate groups. One group, one category if you will, has $615 million set aside for smart grid demonstration projects. The department have defined these as projects that are new, that are sort of novel technologies or novel applications of existing technologies. And then there is a second category, which is much larger and which is almost $3.4 billion. That money is for commercial deployment of Smart Grid technologies, much like what we are already doing in Boulder and in other locations. Now the utilities would go and deploy previously deployed or previously existing commercial technology.
Chuck Conconi: Any problems you've noticed in the DOE proposed plans for this?
Jay Birnbaum: No problems necessarily. Again I think they did a very good job in trying to incorporate a lot of different utility visions of how to do Smart Grid. Their proposed criteria give utilities a lot of flexibility in types of projects they can propose. One constraint is time. You have to have the money spent within two years or you can't use it any longer. And another issue is benefits. The department is looking for projects that will create a large number of benefits, such as environmental benefits, job creation, reducing electricity costs, integrating renewable energy resources, and what is called distributive energy resources, likes the solar panels on your roof. So they are trying to incorporate a large number of different applications and that's what the utility companies have to design their plans to fit within."