President Barack Obama announced Tuesday three Wisconsin electric companies will receive more than $21 million in stimulus grants for the development of safer, modernized electric grids.
A White House statement said Wisconsin energy companies Madison Gas and Electric, Alliant Energy subsidiary Wisconsin Power and Light, and American Transmission Company, LLC will use the funds to limit excess generation, minimize overload on power lines and enable public charging stations for electric cars.
According to the statement, $3.4 billion in stimulus funds were awarded to various applicants in 49 states.
“The creation of a clean energy economy has to be made as swiftly and carefully as possible, to ensure that what it takes to grow this economy in the short, medium, and long term is no longer delayed,” Obama said in a statement.
According to the White House statement, MG&E will use the funds to install 25 in-home vehicle charging management systems for plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles, and create a network of 12 public charging stations throughout their service area.
The stimulus funds given by the federal government will be matched by the recipient companies, said a statement from Gov. Jim Doyle.
“The improvements made possible through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will give consumers more ways to save money and will support the growth of renewable energy sources like wind and solar,” Doyle said.
Steve Krauss, spokesperson for MG&E, said locations for the public charging stations and in-home charging systems have not been determined yet because the stimulus funds will not arrive in Wisconsin for approximately 10 weeks.
Krauss said the in-home vehicle charging management systems differ from simple wall plug-in units because they record information on charge time and other aspects of the electric car charging process. MG&E plans to use the information to create a model of electric car use for consumers.
Krauss also said while some MG&E employees will likely have the in-home systems installed in their residences, people not affiliated with MG&E will also be able to test the systems.
Wisconsin Power and Light will use their share of the stimulus funds to improve their smart meter network in Wisconsin, according to the White House statement.
Alliant Energy spokesperson Steve Schultz said their smart meter network has been in development for approximately a year and a half.
“No one has to read a meter,” Schultz said. “The meter itself sends a signal to our system on an hourly basis. It gives our consumers a better knowledge of how they are using energy.”
Schultz said the stimulus funds will expedite the completion of the network, which uses advanced metering infrastructure technology. The AMI technology creates smart energy meters, which send digital information to energy companies and will eventually allow consumers to check their energy use online.
Schultz did not give a specific number of jobs that could be created, but said new jobs will form out of the need for workers to improve the AMI infrastructure and upgrade the power grid in 80 percent of Alliant’s service area.