Funding plans for U.S. stimulus plan smart grid initiatives outlined


U.S. Vice President
Joe Biden
Washington, DC, U.S.A. — (METERING.COM) — April 17, 2009 – Long awaited funding plans for the United States stimulus plan smart grid initiatives were yesterday detailed by vice president Joe Biden and commerce secretary Gary Locke.

As part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the Department of Energy (DOE) will distribute $3.375 billion in smart grid technology development grants and an additional $615 million for smart grid storage, monitoring and technology viability.

“We need an upgraded electrical grid to take full advantage of the vast renewable resources in this country – to take the wind from the Midwest and the sun from the Southwest and power areas across the country,” said Biden. “By investing in updating the grid now, we will lower utility bills for American families and businesses, lessen our dependence on foreign oil and create good jobs that will drive our economic recovery – a strong return on our investment.”

The DOE’s Smart Grid Investment Grant Program, outlined in a draft notice of intent, will provide grants ranging from $500,000 to $20 million for smart grid technology deployments, in the areas of area, regional, and national coordination regimes, distributed energy resource technology, delivery (transmission and distribution) infrastructure, and information networks. It will also provide grants of $100,000 to $5 million for the deployment of phasor measurement unit grid monitoring devices.

The grants will be matching grants of up to 50 percent for investments planned by electric utilities and other entities to deploy smart grid technologies. A competitive, merit-based process will be used to select qualified projects to receive funding.

The first application due date is anticipated to be July 29, 2009, with subsequent application dates, depending on the availability of funds, of December 2, 2009 and March 31, 2010.

The smart grid demonstration project funding opportunity is for smart grid demonstrations in three areas. These are smart grid regional demonstrations, which will quantify smart grid costs and benefits, verify technology viability, and examine new business models; utility scale energy storage demonstrations, which can include technologies such as advanced battery systems, ultra-capacitors, flywheels, and compressed air energy systems, and applications such as wind and photovoltaic integration and grid congestion relief; and grid monitoring demonstrations, which will support the installation and networking of multiple high resolution, time synchronized grid monitoring devices, or synchrophasors.  

According to the draft funding opportunity, the funds will be allocated to between 8 to 12 regional demonstrations in sizes ranging from $5 million to $40 million, 4 to 5 synchrophasor projects from $15 million to $20 million, and 12 to 19 energy storage projects from $25 million to $60 million.

The projects require a cost share of at least 50 percent of non-federal funds.

Plans were also announced for a smart grid meeting in early May in Washington, DC to be chaired by Locke and energy secretary Steven Chu. The event will bring together leaders from key stakeholders’ organizations, largely from private industry, to begin a critical discussion about developing industry-wide standards for the smart grid. Additionally, industry leaders at the meeting will be expected to pledge to harmonize industry standards critical to developing the smart grid, commit to a timetable to reach a standards agreement and abide by the standards devised.

Additional meetings of industry staff on May 19-20 are planned to make further progress on a standards agreement.

The draft notice of intent and funding opportunity are open for comment for a period of 20 days.