While industry interests were trying to get on board the smart grid gravy train last fall in Washington, D.C., in rural West Virginia folks were dealing with the force of a political locomotive pushing a high-voltage interstate grid, with property owners opposed and labor in favor.
A DOE public affairs contact confirmed to POWERnews on Tuesday that the department has canceled a planned second round of funding opportunities for smart grid–related projects. Initially, the DOE had planned to fund projects with American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) money spread over three rounds. Announcement of the third round’s cancellation was made at GridWeek in September, where it was also announced that the second round was being assessed.
Speaking yesterday at the opening of Florida Power and Light’s (FPL) DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center in Arcadia, Fla.—the largest of its kind in the U.S.—President Barack Obama announced the largest single energy grid modernization investment in U.S. history.
The consumer, societal, and business benefits of grid moderniaztion are unclear, because the vast majority of grid-related stimulus funding appears destined to primarily expand, not cure, the ailing system we have today.
Energy storage in the U.S. received another boost this week as two flywheel energy storage companies reported milestones, and KEMA briefed the U.S. Congress on policy issues that could impact the development and adoption of electricity storage technologies and applications.
The U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works last week continued a series of hearings that assesses how proposed energy and climate change legislation could impact industry and economy. Last week’s hearing was titled, “Ensuring and Enhancing U.S. Competitiveness while Moving toward a Clean Energy Economy.”
Since 1882, when Thomas Edison installed the world’s first central generating plant in New York City, utility business models have varied little from the basic one: cover costs and generate profit by selling more electricity. But today, unprecedented challenges are sweeping through the industry. Soon utilities will face yet another new challenge: the large-scale implementation of distributed solar power, which can result in lower electricity sales. As solar implementation further challenges business-as-usual models, what’s a forward-thinking utility to do?
At the opening ELECTRIC POWER 2009 plenary session, both the keynote speaker and the Power Industry Executive Roundtable participants kept circling back to the problems created by a public and lawmakers who seem to be promoting policies without an adequate understanding of energy realities. Most of the speakers acknowledged that the industry itself is partly to blame, but nobody offered a way forward.
There has been much excitement about the advent of the "smart grid" recently, especially because of the strong push by the Obama administration. Despite the simple-sounding term, the smart grid is not a simple concept.
Clashes between industry and the Department of Commerce on backward compatibility of standards could stifle and delay the development of a “smart” electric transmission and distribution grid.