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A Smarter Electric Grid
By KARIN RIVES

A Bangalore company explores ways to deliver electricity in a more efficient way, with
U.S. help.

A power company in Bangalore will be exploring smart-grid technologies with the help of a $453,350 pilot study funded by the United States. The project could be a win-win for both nations in the drive to build expertise and market share in the emerging clean energy sector.

The 12-month, smart-grid study is also an opportunity for the United States and India to build on the Partnership to Advance Clean Energy that President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh signed in 2009.

The grant from the U.S. Trade and Development Agency will pay an American contractor to work with the Bangalore Electricity Supply Company Ltd. to explore how best to integrate smart meters and automated meter reading into an electric distribution system in Karnataka.

The trade and development agency links U.S. businesses to export opportunities while creating sustainable infrastructure and economic growth in partner countries—in this case by offering American expertise to India as it builds and enhances its electric grid.

The Bangalore electricity company is exploring ways to deliver electricity in a more reliable and efficient way to customers in its rapidly growing service area. The company won the India Power Award in 2009 for its energy efficiency and conservation efforts.

It has also been working for several years to upgrade its system, in part with assistance from the U.S. Agency for International Development.

The Indian government is earmarking a large portion of its planned $2.3 trillion energy investment over the next few decades for renewable and clean power sources and technologies.

The Bangalore project will help India meet “its energy efficiency goals, an issue of critical importance to Indian energy security,” says Blair Hall, minister counselor for economics, environment, science and technology at the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi. “Through the grant…India will improve its ability to streamline electricity demand.”

In November 2010, the United States and India agreed to establish a Joint Clean Energy Research and Development Center that seeks to mobilize up to $100 million in public-sector and private-sector funding over five years. Also, under the Partnership to Advance Clean Energy, the United States pledged in November to use two government-financing vehicles—the Overseas Private Investment Corporation and the Export-Import Bank—to steer private sector investments in clean-energy infrastructure to India.

The investment corporation is providing $100 million in financing for solar, wind, hydropower, advanced biofuels and natural gas projects in South Asia, the bulk of which will be invested in India.

Karin Rives is a staff writer with America.gov.

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