|Map of the 100 smart grid awards. Source: DOE. Click to enlarge.|
Speaking at Florida Power and Light’s (FPL) DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center, President Barack Obama announced $3.4 billion in grant awards to 100 private companies, utilities, manufacturers, cities and other partners—the largest single energy grid modernization investment in US history—to fund a broad range of smart grid technologies and projects.
The $3.4 billion in grant awards are part of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, and will be matched by industry funding for a total public-private investment worth more than $8 billion. Full listings of the grant awards by category and state are available here and here.
An analysis by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) estimates that the implementation of smart grid technologies could reduce electricity use by more than 4% by 2030.
Major elements in the announcement include:
Empowering Consumers to Save Energy and Cut Utility Bills: $1 billion. These investments will create the infrastructure and expand access to smart meters and customer systems so that consumers will be able to access dynamic pricing information and have the ability to save money by programming smart appliances and equipment to run when rates are lowest.
Making Electricity Distribution and Transmission More Efficient: $400 million. The Administration is funding several grid modernization projects across the country that will significantly reduce the amount of power that is wasted from the time it is produced at a power plant to the time it gets to a house. By deploying digital monitoring devices and increasing grid automation, these awards will increase the efficiency, reliability and security of the system, and will help link up renewable energy resources with the electric grid.
Integrating and Crosscutting Across Different “Smart” Components of a Smart Grid: $2 billion. Much like electronic banking, the Smart Grid is not the sum total of its components but how those components work together. The Administration is funding a range of projects that will incorporate these various components into one system or cut across various project areas—including smart meters, smart thermostats and appliances, syncrophasors, automated substations, plug in hybrid electric vehicles, renewable energy sources, etc.
Building a Smart Grid Manufacturing Industry: $26 million. These investments will help expand the US manufacturing base of companies that can produce the smart meters, smart appliances, synchrophasors, smart transformers, and other components for smart grid systems in the United States and around the world.
More specifically, the awards are grouped into six categories:
- Advanced Metering Infrastructure (31 awards, $818 million in Recovery Act funding, $2.0 billion total investment)
- Customer Systems (5 projects, $32.4 million in Recovery Act funding, $67.3 million total)
- Electric Distribution Systems (13 projects, $254.3 million in Recovery Act funding, $509 million total)
- Electric Transmission Systems (10 projects, $148 million in Recovery Act funding, $298.4 million total)
- Equipment Manufacturing (2 projects, $25.8 million in Recovery Act funding, $51.6 million total)
- Integrated and/or Cross-cutting Systems (39 projects, $2.2 billion in Recovery Act funding, $5.2 billion total)
Among the expected outcomes of the projects, when fully implemented, are:
Higher grid reliability, reducing power outages that cost American consumers $150 billion a year.
Installation of more than 850 sensors—‘Phasor Measurement Units’—that will cover 100% of the US electric grid and make it possible for grid operators to better monitor grid conditions and prevent minor disturbances in the electrical system from cascading into local or regional power outages or blackouts. This monitoring ability will also help the grid to incorporate large blocks of intermittent renewable energy, like wind and solar power, to take advantage of clean energy resources when they are available and make adjustments when they’re not.
Installation of more than 200,000 smart transformers that will make it possible for power companies to replace units before they fail thus saving money and reducing power outages.
Installation of almost 700 automated substations, representing about 5% of the nation’s total that will make it possible for power companies to respond faster and more effectively to restore service when bad weather knocks down power lines or causes electricity disruptions.
Power companies today typically do not know there has been a power outage until a customer calls to report it. With these smart grid devices, power companies will have the tools they need for better outage prevention and faster response to make repairs when outages do occur.
Deployment of more than 40 million smart meters in American homes and businesses over the next few years that will help consumers cut their utility bills.
Installation of more than 1 million in-home displays, 170,000 smart thermostats, and 175,000 other load control devices to enable consumers to reduce their energy use. Funding will also help expand the market for smart washers, dryers, and dishwashers, so that American consumers can further control their energy use and lower their electricity bills.
Put the US on a path to get 20% or more of it energy from renewable sources by 2020.
Reduce peak electricity demand by more than 1,400 MW—the equivalent of several larger power plants.