The 46 EFRCs, which are to be funded at $2–5 million per year each for a planned initial five-year period, were selected from a pool of some 260 applications received in response to a solicitation issued in 2008 by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Office of Science.
Over 110 institutions from 36 states plus the District of Columbia will be participating in the EFRC research. In all, the EFRCs will involve nearly 700 senior investigators and employ, on a full- or part-time basis, over 1,100 postdoctoral associates, graduate students, undergraduate students, and technical staff (fact sheet). Roughly a third of these researchers will be supported by Recovery Act funding.
I'm guessing that this is similar to the "Science and Technology Centers" that were done back in the 90's and early 2000's. Such funding efforts on a specific, well-defined area and task seem to have produced quite a spurt in advancing the knowledge and technology of the area that got picked.