U.S. DOE announces intent to issue stimulus plan smart grid funding opportunity


Steven Chu,
U.S. Energy Secretary
Washington, DC, U.S.A. — (METERING.COM) — March 4, 2009 – The United States Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) has announced that it intends to issue a funding opportunity announcement on “Smart Grid Demonstrations” later in this month for funding made available under the nation’s economic stimulus plan.

The funding opportunity will include three topical areas of interest: regional smart grid demonstrations, utility-scale energy storage demonstrations, and regional synchrophasor demonstrations.

Cooperative agreements issued under this requirement will support demonstration projects in each of these areas.

Regional demonstrations will be regionally unique demonstrations to quantify smart grid costs and benefits, verify smart grid technology viability, and validate new smart grid business models including application of cyber security measures, at a scale that can then be readily planned and replicated around the country.

Utility-scale energy storage demonstrations will be demonstrations of major energy storage installations, including advanced battery systems, ultra-capacitors, flywheels, and compressed air energy systems, to help to establish costs and benefits, verify technical performance, and validate system reliability and durability. Application areas include wind and photovoltaic (PV) integration, upgrade deferral of transmission and distribution assets, congestion relief, and system regulation. Projects are also sought for development to bring promising utility scale storage technologies to market readiness in the U.S.

Synchrophasor demonstrations are expected to demonstrate innovative, network-based applications of time-synchronized phasor measurement technologies in ways that can be replicated in a secure manner around the country. To fully leverage the capabilities of this technology, it is necessary to install and network multiple high resolution, time synchronized grid monitoring devices, collect and analyze their data, and use those data to create a variety of wide-area information and insight for use in operating and planning the electric power system. These projects are encouraged to address local or regional power system operational issues that pose reliability concerns, but consideration will also be given to applications that enhance bulk power system market operations.

The DOE envisions awarding multiple financial assistance awards in the form of cost-shared cooperative agreements. The cost share must be at least 50 percent of the total allowable costs for the projects and must come from non-Federal sources unless otherwise allowed by law. The estimated period of performance for each award is two to five years.

Under the stimulus plan – formally known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 – an amount of $4.5 billion is provided for smart grid related activities (see U.S. stimulus plan signed into law with smart grid provisions).

Shortly after the signing into law of the plan, newly appointed energy secretary Steven Chu committed to expediting its funding by cutting paperwork and processing applications on a rolling basis among other actions. This should enable the DOE to begin offering loan guarantees by early summer, and by the end of next year 70 percent of the funding should have been dispersed.

In anticipation of the imminent release of the funding opportunity and the likelihood of a short response period, the DOE advises prospective applicants to ensure that they have registered and meet the requirements for submitting an application through Grants.gov, where the announcement will be posted.