More stimulus support for smart grids in the U.S.


Joe Biden, U.S.
Vice President
Washington, DC, U.S.A. — (METERING.COM) — December 21, 2009 – The smart grid in the United States is to benefit from additional stimulus funding awards to strengthen the nation’s electric transmission networks and for the broadband program.

Last week $60 million in funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was announced to support transmission planning for the country’s three interconnection transmission networks – the Eastern, Western, and Texas interconnections.

The awards will promote collaborative long term analysis and planning for the three interconnections, with resource and transmission planning studies due in 2011 and updated in 2013, which will help states, utilities, grid operators, and others prepare for future growth in energy demand, renewable energy sources, and smart grid technologies.

Both transmission planners and state agencies will benefit from this funding, including the Eastern Interconnection Planning Collaborative and the Eastern Interconnection States’ Planning Council for the Eastern interconnection, the Western Electricity Coordinating Council and the Western Governors’ Association for the Western interconnection, and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) for the Texas interconnection.

At the same time a Memorandum of Understanding was announced between the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to coordinate efforts related to interconnection-level electric transmission planning. Under the MOU the DOE will lead electricity-related research and development activities, including research and demonstrations for hardware and software technologies that help operate the country’s transmission networks, while the FERC will continue to oversee electricity reliability standards nationally and will enforce regulations to ensure that all transmission planning happens in an open, transparent and non-discriminatory manner.

Last week also the first $183 million investment in the $7.2 billion broadband program was announced, with awards to eighteen projects benefiting seventeen states. Notably the award to the Consolidated Electric Cooperative in Ohio for the North Central Ohio Rural Fiber Optic Network is noted as integral to a smart grid initiative and also will include connection of all its 16 electric substations.

“This is what the Recovery Act is all about – sparking new growth, tapping into the ingenuity of the American people and giving folks the tools they need to help build a new economy in the 21st century,” said U.S. vice president Joe Biden on the award of the broadband grants.