The projects include installing "smart" electric meters in homes, automating utility substations, and installing thousands of new digital transformers and grid sensors.
"There's something big happening in America in terms of creating a clean-energy economy," Obama said, although he added there is much more to be done.
He likened the effort to the ambitious development of the national highway system 50 years ago. He said modernization would lead to a "smarter, stronger and more secure electric grid."
Obama said a modern grid could give consumers better control over their electricity usage and costs, and spur development of renewable energy sources such as wind and solar.
I'm a huge fan of Smart Grid technologies, which will allow you to set, for example, your dishwasher or dryer to automatically go on late at night -- when electricity is often half the price (or lower) than it is than during the day. If anybody out there is reading this, we volunteer our house for testing!
Read the full story>>
Read Grist's analysis>>
Read Marc Gunther's report (including a cool chart showing how much electricity appliances use)