Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Smart Grid Program Announced

Vice President Joe Biden, on a visit to Jefferson City, Missouri, (home of Infrastructure Watch) with Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, detailed plans by the Department of Energy (DOE) to develop a smart electrical grid. As part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, DOE will distribute more than $3.3 billion in smart grid technology development grants and an additional $615 million for smart grid storage, monitoring and technology viability.

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 key stakeholders, largely from private industry, to discuss developing industry-wide standards for a smart grid. Additional meetings of industry staff on May 19-20 are planned to make further progress on a standards agreement.

As part of Biden's announcement, the DOE released a notice of intent (NOI) for the Smart Grid Investment Grant Program, as well as a draft funding opportunity announcement for a smart grid regional demonstration initiative. The 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 percent 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. There will be a 20-day public comment period on the NOI.

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.

Each demonstration project must be carried out in collaboration with the electric utility that owns the grid facilities. The projects require a cost share of at least 50 percent of non-federal funds.

You can find the original DOE news release here.

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