Stimulus bills have big bucks for ‘green’ IT programs

The House and Senate versions of the economic recovery bill would provide billions for energy efficiency programs and developing renewable energy resources that can use information technology to help stimulate job creation.

The House passed its version of the legislation Jan. 28, and total spending was put at $820 billion, while committees in the Senate began to consider its version. The Senate version of the stimulus bill has grown to $888 billion. The Senate and House must ultimately reconcile their two versions in a conference committee.

When comparing the bills, both versions have similar provisions, but they are not always the same. Some provisions may not be categorized the same way.

Among the programs in the House bill, the Energy Department would be able to spend $2 billion for research and development, demonstration projects and deployment. A House report on the bill said these projects would cover biomass, geothermal and solar energy. The funds would also go toward accelerating research and development for advanced batteries necessary for conversion to electric vehicles and energy storage to increase the effectiveness of renewable energy projects, the report said.

The House bill would include $8.4 billion for energy efficient and renewable energy grants and loans, which the House report said would be aimed at states, block grants and institutions, such as universities, public school districts, local governments and municipal utilities. The Senate version would provide for about one half of the grants at $4.2 billion, available in the form of block grants.

The department would also receive $4.5 billion under both the House and Senate versions to modernize the electronic transmission system into a smart grid, enhance security and reliability of the energy infrastructure and recovery from disruptions of the energy supply, the bill said. The amount also includes $100 million for worker training. A smart grid would allow for quick response to unusual demands for electricity, storing electricity, and integrating of different types of generators that may be located in different geographic areas, the House report said.

Concerning the smart grid, the Senate bill said Energy’s Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability would provide technical assistance to the North American Electric Reliability Corp., other regional reliability organizations, states and other transmission owners and operators for plans for the formation of interconnected transmissions.

Other IT intensive efforts by Energy that the House and Senate bills would fund are:

· The House would spend $8 billion for innovative technology loan guarantees.

· The House bill would spend $2.4 billion and Senate $4.6 billion to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

· The House would spend $2 billion and the Senate $430 million for science, and in particular, for advanced scientific research and computing.

The House-passed stimulus bill, H.R. 1, can be found here. The Senate proposed version of the stimulus bill, S. 336, is here.

About the Author

Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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