Smart Grid

VP Biden Announces Nearly $4 Billion for Smart Grid

On Thursday, while visiting Jefferson City, Mo., with Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, Vice President Joe Biden announced that, as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, more than $3.3 billion in smart grid technology development grants and an additional $615 million for smart grid storage, monitoring, and technology viability were being made available.

“By investing in updating the grid now, we will lower utility bills for American families and businesses, lessen our dependence on foreign oil and create good jobs that will drive our economic recovery—a strong return on our investment,” Biden said.

Secretary Locke also announced plans for a smart grid meeting in Washington, D.C., that he will chair with Energy Secretary Steven Chu. The event, which will take place in early May, will bring together leaders from key stakeholders’ organizations, largely from private industry, to begin a critical discussion about developing industry-wide standards that will enable the smart grid to become a reality. Additionally, industry leaders at the meeting will be expected to pledge to harmonize industry standards critical to developing the smart grid, commit to a timetable to reach a standards agreement, and abide by the standards devised. Additional meetings of industry staff on May 19-20 are planned to make further progress on a standards agreement.

Under the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, the Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology is responsible for assisting with the development of a framework for standards associated with smart grid systems and devices.

As part of Biden’s announcement, the Department of Energy released a notice of intent for the DOE Smart Grid Investment Grant Program, as well as a draft funding opportunity announcement from the department for a smart grid regional demonstration initiative. Together these efforts will help implement technologies aimed at transforming how electricity providers operate their systems, offer options for increased energy storage, and accelerate the integration of renewable energy sources like wind and solar power with the electrical grid.

$3.375 Billion for Smart Grid Investment Grant Program

The DOE’s Smart Grid Investment Grant Program will provide grants ranging from $500,000 to $20 million for smart grid technology deployments. It will also provide grants of $100,000 to $5 million for the deployment of grid-monitoring devices. This program provides matching grants of up to 50% for investments planned by electric utilities and other entities to deploy smart grid technologies. The program will use a competitive, merit-based process to select qualified projects to receive funding.

Eligible applicants include, but are not limited to, electric utilities, companies that distribute or sell electricity, organizations that coordinate or control grid operations, appliance and equipment manufacturers, and firms that wish to install smart grid technology. There will be a 20-day public comment period on the notice of intent; the department will use feedback to finalize the grant program structure and subsequent solicitation.

$615 Million for Smart Grid Demonstration Projects

The draft funding opportunity announcement is for smart grid demonstrations in three areas:

  • Smart Grid Regional Demonstrations will quantify smart grid costs and benefits, verify technology viability, and examine new business models.
  • Utility-Scale Energy Storage Demonstrations can include technologies such as advanced battery systems, ultra-capacitors, flywheels, and compressed air energy systems, and applications such as wind and photovoltaic integration and grid congestion relief.
  • Grid-Monitoring Demonstrations will support the installation and networking of multiple high-resolution, time-synchronized grid-monitoring devices, called phasor measurement units, that allow transmission system operators to see, and therefore influence, electric flows in real time.

Adding Wind to the Grid

While in Jefferson City, Biden joined representatives of NTR and Wind Capital Group (WCG) at an ABB manufacturing facility to announce the development of a $300 million wind farm. The 150-MW Lost Creek Wind Farm in DeKalb County will be one of the first wind development projects to avail itself of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (“federal stimulus”) funds. The project will be the state’s largest wind energy development and is expected to create more than 2,500 jobs.

“You have maintained jobs here because Wind Capital Group, which was ready to put on hold its projects, was able, through this Recovery Act, to get the money to make its project happen,” said Biden.

GE Energy will supply 100 of its 1.5-MW wind turbines; ABB will supply 100 electric transformers, which will be made by UAW employees at its Jefferson City facility; and Associated Electric Cooperative Inc. will purchase all the electricity generated at Lost Creek.

Sources: DOE, Wind Capital Group

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