We’ve previously written about the smart grid investments promised by President Obama’s stimulus bill, but yesterday the President announced for the first time what form that stimulus will actually take.

Obama announced the distribution of $3.4 billion worth of stimulus grants from a solar energy farm in Florida. Part of his rational for funding the upgrade to the country’s aging electrical grid sounded surprisingly familiar:

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.

Constructing the smart grid is critically important for relaying renewable energy from parts of the country where it is generated (say a wind farm in rural North Dakota) to areas where it’s most needed (urban areas across the nation). The smart grid will also help to improve system-wide efficiency, cutting down on wasted electricity.

GOOD featured a map of where the stimulus money is going:

GOOD map

Minnesota did well, with funds for upgrading the transmission system and for placing real time ‘smart meters’ into homes and businesses.

Yesterday marked the single biggest announcement of stimulus fund allocation to date. Grants will be delivered to the winning companies and cities by the end of the year.