DOE Cancels Second Round of Smart Grid Funding

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.

Though the DOE had not posted the announcement on its site by the end of Tuesday, POWERnews learned of the cancellation in an interview with Xcel Energy’s Tom Henley, spokesman for the utility’s SmartGridCity project. When asked if Xcel had submitted an application for the initial round of smart grid project funding, Henley said it had not but that it had submitted an application for the second round.

On Tuesday, the day that President Obama announced 100 smart grid project awards totaling $3.4 billion (see previous story), Xcel received a letter from the DOE explaining that the second round of funding opportunities had been cancelled.

A DOE contact explained that the department had reviewed nearly 390 completed, relevant applications for the first round. When it first announced the funding opportunity, the DOE had anticipated three rounds of funding. However, because of the large number of “incredibly high-quality” applications for this first round, the department decided to forgo additional rounds, opting instead to funnel more money into the economy faster, according to the spokesperson.

If all first-round applications had been funded at their requested levels, they would have totaled $9.3 billion for the federal cost share portion.

The spokesperson had no estimate of the number of projects affected by cancellation of the second round of funding.

Sources: Xcel Energy, POWERnews