Biden, Commerce Secretary announce next step in stimulus
DOE Thursday released a “notice of intent” for its Smart Grid Investment Grant Program along with a draft Funding Opportunity Announcement for a smart grid regional demonstration initiative.
DOE made available a synopsis and an application but the application package was only posted in a draft form with comments to be collected through May 6. DOE didn't post the formal submission since the agency plans to accommodate a 20-day public comment period on the “notice of intent” and consider feedback when tweaking the final version of the grant program's structure and solicitation.
DOE's Smart Grid Investment Grant Program will provide grants ranging from $500,000 to $20 million for smart grid technology deployments, the White House said Thursday.
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.
Eligible applicants include electric utilities, power distributors or sellers, organizations that coordinate or control grid operations, appliance and equipment manufacturers, and firms that want to install smart grid technology.
The ARRA-funded efforts are meant to spur technologies aimed at transforming how power providers operate their systems. They are also meant to offer options for increased energy storage and to accelerate the integration of renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power with the electrical grid.
Utilities and their smart grid business partners -- and politicians, of course -- have been anxiously waiting for word from the DOE about how to go about asking Uncle Sam for millions and eventually billions of dollars in matching funds.
One example is a coalition of Pacific Northwest US utilities preparing to ask DOE for up to $100 million in matching funds (ST, Apr-16).
And we reported last week on US Sen Maria Cantwell (D-Wash), anticipating that landing regional demo project funds from the DOE could well give the state a leg up in the competition for federal matching funds for smart grid (ST, Apr-08). The Bonneville Power Administration is reportedly working to help prepare smart grid players in the region for the application process.
Following DOE's announcement yesterday, BPA executives were poring over the fresh details about the application process, a spokesperson told us. BPA's next steps include sending out a request for information and holding further discussions with utilities next week.
DOE released its news through the White House to coincide with remarks made by Vice President Joe Biden in Jefferson City, Mo, where he appeared with US Department of Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and Missouri Governor Jay Nixon (D) to discuss President Obama's Recovery Act. They spoke at an ABB plant where transformers are made for the state's Lost Creek Wind Farm project.
“We need an upgraded electrical grid to take full advantage of the vast renewable resources in this country -- to take the wind from the Midwest and the sun from the Southwest and power areas across the country,” Biden told the press. “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.”
A cabinet-level smart grid meeting is set for next month in the nation's capital, Locke said, noting he and DOE Secretary Steven Chu would host key stakeholders largely from the private sector.
While the exact date for the May meeting was not announced, Locke said it would “begin a critical discussion about developing industry-wide standards that will enable the smart grid to become a reality.” He added that “industry leaders 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.”
Locke used an ATM card as a prop to discuss the need for the smart grid interoperability standards that NIST is developing with the help of EPRI and some subcontractors -- whom Smart Grid Today introduced to the nation last week as they were selected to draw the interop roadmap (ST, Apr-06).
“Initially, before a set of standards was agreed to, [ATM cards] could only be used at your own bank,” said Locke. “But then the banking industry agreed on a wide range of standards -- rules to govern ATM security, communications and transactions. Those rules enabled a revolution in how we live our lives and spurred additional innovation. You can now use your card at any ATM machine and even at the cashier stand at your grocery store. The birth of a truly connected smart energy grid will be realized when we establish the rules of the road that will let the technology finally lift off.”
Under the EISA, NIST is responsible for assisting with the development of a framework for standards associated with smart grid systems and devices including cyber-security and similar safeguards put in place to protect the grid from hackers and natural disasters.
This story has been reproduced from the April 17, 2009 issue of Smart Grid Today with the permission of the publisher, MMI Inc. To view the full story on Smart Grid Today’s website, please visit http://www.smartgridtoday.com/public/172.cfm?sd=31.