Alternative energy is taking it on the chin this recession, with solar and wind developers canceling projects and laying off workers. But a far more obscure slice of the energy sector is hotter than ever: the electricity grid.
President Obama has made modernizing the nation's vast power network a key piece of his $819 billion economic stimulus plan, passed by the House Wednesday. Last weekend he called for the installation of 3,000 miles of transmission lines to carry renewable energy to population centers and 40 million smart electric meters in homes. The House bill sets aside $11 billion to help finance the investments.
Obama's endorsement of a sweeping upgrade to the century-old grid is jolting an industry already on a roll. Top power companies and lawmakers lately have called for an up to $1 trillion nationwide backbone electric grid.
Meantime, utilities and venture-capital firms are bucking the credit crisis and pouring billions of dollars into the "smart grid.">>>MORE
*When USA Today was young, Gary Trudeau poked fun at Mr. Neuharth's baby with some Doonesbury strips in the form of USAT's "Snapshot" pictographs. The strips can be found in the book of the same name: