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Obama Announces $3.4B Investment in Smart Grid Technologies and Projects

Smartgrid
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.

Comments

SJC

This is off topic, but I just read that Fisker is going to make cars in an idled U.S. GM plant.

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/10/27/business/main5425115.shtml?tag=cbsnewsLeadStoriesAreaMain;cbsnewsLeadStoriesPrimary

As far as the President's program, I think it is the right one at the right time. It that will create jobs and be a good investment in our future.

danm

This is good. However,
Florida should be the leader in solar, the ."sunshine state". Every household should be using solar hot water heaters. The savings in electricity consumption might be more than this plant's 110MV.
Large centralized plants like this are still missing the mark of "lowering consumption".
Of course, FPL would not be selling as much.

danm

Just read SJC's article on Fisker.
Too bad the plant is in Delaware...Biden's state. Gives it a bad oder...and the fact that GM only got $18M. Pitiful. Oh well, better to have an idled plant making something rather than rusting away.

SJC

There was talk that Fisker would make cars in Finland. I do not know if this is still planned, but Delaware is in the U.S. and that is good enough for me. They said that they probably would employ workers from GM and Chrysler, so that would help as well.

ai_vin

Florida should be the leader in solar, the ."sunshine state".

Actually I doubt Florida would be the leader in solar. True it gets lots of sun but it also has lot's of water so the sun is often hidden behind cloud cover. It is a very good place for solar but not the best. What you need to be the leader is dry air and lot's of cheap land.
http://www.fsec.ucf.edu/en/media/enews/2007/2007-04_Sunshine_state.htm

arnold

also off topic?
one aussie manufacturer of wind power equipment heard complaining that "as a result of Renewable Energy Certificates flooding the market" courtesy of generous solar hot water rebates and other energy efficiency rebates, that their company was loosing orders to the extent that layoffs etc."

From the perspective of the consumer, tradable renewable energy certificates make these purchases irresistible the maximum efficiency savings are not always straight forward and even within this market, there are winners and losers.

P.s The heater works a treat, the booster was only switched on for verification but not used since.
And no I'm not still on the same cake of soap.

SJC

The southwest is good for solar also. It has been stated that an area 100 miles by 100 miles in the Nevada desert could provide all of the energy for the U.S. I calculated that would cost over $10 trillion, but it is an interesting concept.

Nick Lyons

@SJC:

Karma will be built in Finland. This factory is for their 'Nina' project, a 'more affordable' $48,000 model.

ai_vin

It has been stated that an area 100 miles by 100 miles in the Nevada desert could provide all of the energy for the U.S.

Which does sound like a lot of land until you make some comparisons; Hoover Dam, and Lake Mead behind it, takes up 247 square miles of land. A solar farm of just 11 square miles could produce as much power as the Hoover Dam.

Coal power plants seem small in comparison, but we're taking off the tops of the Appalachian Mountains and stripmining Wyoming to feed them.

SJC

Nick,

Thanks for the information. I figured that they would still go ahead with the Finland deal. It sounds like Fisker has a follow on project to bring more vehicle to more people.

HarveyD

There are many very quick and easy ways to reduce current high electric energy consumption:

1) progressively change existing high consumption large TVs + Computer screens/displays with flat thin LCD with LED edge back lights.
Potential saving 100 to 200 million Kw/day.

2) progressively change all older low efficiency (below SEER-13) air conditionning units with new Inverter Type very high efficiency (SEER-25+) Heat Pumps. Use Acadia's (or equivalent) cold weather type HP (down to -30F) in northern USA and Canada.
Potential savaings up to 200 million Kwh/day.

3) ban the persitent use (and sales) of old fashion incadescent light bulbs for all places including homes, commercial and public places, cars, trucks, locomotives, planes, ships etc. in favour of more efficient LED and CFL.
Potential savings of over 100 million Kwh/day plus huge labour cost savings due to longer lasting LED.

This list could go on and on. The switch to LED and Electronic thermostats was accellerated in our area with $$ incentives from the local Hydro power supplier. The clean power saved was exported south of the border.

ToppaTom

Way back on the topic at the top.
The two biggest are:
"• 1. Empowering us to Save Energy: $1 billion. Smart meters and smart appliances and equipment to run off peak when rates are lowest."
Sounds like a win - win

"• 2. Integrating “Smart” Components: $2 billion."
I think this automates the grid or at least monitors it so the utilities know what is going where. Sounds like a win - win also, but I'm not sure.

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