U.S. smart grid stimulus funding opportunities released


Steven Chu,
U.S. Energy
Washington, DC, U.S.A. — (METERING.COM) — June 26, 2009 – U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu yesterday announced the release of the final Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOAs) for smart grid projects under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

The two FOAs make available more than $3.9 billion in grants – approximately $3.4 billion under the Smart Grid Investment Grant (SGIG) Program and $615 million for smart grid demonstrations.

According to the SGIG FOA the overall purpose of the program is to accelerate the modernization of the nation’s electric transmission and distribution systems and promote investments in smart grid technologies, tools, and techniques which increase flexibility, functionality, interoperability, cyber security, situational awareness, and operational efficiency.

Projects that accomplish this purpose and the accompanying goals will be those that help implement necessary digital upgrades to electric transmission and distribution systems, large and small, and to residential, commercial, industrial, and public buildings, appliances, and equipment that connect with those systems. Such projects will support the two-way flow of both electric power and information between power companies and consumers and will include methods and capabilities addressing interoperability.

It is expected that SGIG projects will also enable the entire electricity supply and delivery chain – as a whole or in part – (including power plants, transmission lines, substations, distribution lines, meters, and customer systems) to operate in a more reliable, efficient, secure, and affordable manner through operational improvements in areas such as outage detection, equipment maintenance, and asset deferral and at a higher level of environmental protection through increased capabilities for cost effectively integrating renewable, energy efficient, and less carbon intensive technologies. Such projects will also provide an economic stimulus through investment in electric infrastructure, expansion of economic opportunities for businesses, creation of jobs for American workers, and enhancements of worker skills.

Approximately 40 percent of the SGIG funding will be allocated for smaller projects in the range $300,000 to $20 million, while approximately 60% will be allocated for larger projects in the range $20 million to $200 million.

The smart grid demonstration program FOA states that its goal is to demonstrate technologies in regions across the U.S. that embody essential and salient characteristics of each region and present a suite of use cases for national implementation and replication.

The program will support two program areas, smart grid demonstrations and grid-scale energy storage.

Regional demonstrations will be regionally unique demonstration projects to quantify smart grid costs, benefits and cost effectiveness, verify smart grid technology viability, and validate new smart grid business models. Smart grid technologies of interest include advanced digital technologies for use in planning and operations of the electric power system and the electricity markets such as microprocessor-based measurement and control, communications, computing, and information.  

Grid scale energy storage demonstration projects will help to establish costs and benefits, verify technical performance, and validate system reliability and durability. Energy storage systems include advanced battery systems (including flow batteries), ultracapacitors, flywheels, and compressed air energy systems. Areas of application include wind and photovoltaic integration, upgrade deferral of transmission and distribution assets, congestion relief, system regulation, utility load shifting, ramping control, and distributed energy storage. Energy storage can also provide dynamic reactive compensation for mitigation of voltage and transient instability, backup power for customers during islanding of grid, peak shaving the load, arbitrage, and offset new peak capacity. Projects are also sought to demonstrate promising grid-scale storage technologies in order to rapidly advance their market readiness in the U.S.

The anticipated numbers of awards are 8-12 regional demonstrations up to $100 million, and 12-19 energy storage demonstrations in the range $25 million to $60 million.

“These investments will be used to develop a smart, strong and secure electrical grid that will help integrate renewable resources onto the grid, deliver power more reliably and effectively with less environmental impact, and create new jobs across the country,” said Secretary Chu. “By investing in updating the grid now, we will lower utility bills for American families and businesses, lessen our dependence on oil, and help advance a clean energy future for the nation.”

Applications for funding under the SGIG program are due by August 6, with subsequent application due dates of November 4 and March 3, 2010. Applications for smart grid demonstration funding are due by August 26.