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DOE Awarding $620M for Smart Grid Demonstration and Energy Storage Projects

The US Department of Energy is awarding $620 million for projects around the country to demonstrate advanced Smart Grid technologies and integrated systems. These 32 demonstration projects, which include large-scale energy storage, smart meters, distribution and transmission system monitoring devices, plug-in vehicles, and a range of other smart technologies, will act as models for deploying integrated Smart Grid systems on a broader scale.

The funding awards are divided into two topic areas. In the first group, 16 awards totaling $435 million will support fully integrated, regional Smart Grid demonstrations in 21 states, representing more than 50 utilities and electricity organizations with a combined customer base of almost 100 million consumers.

These projects include streamlined communication technologies that will allow different parts of the grid to communicate with each other in real time; sensing and control devices that help grid operators monitor and control the flow of electricity to avoid disruptions and outages; smart meters and in-home systems that empower consumers to reduce their energy use and save money; energy storage options, including the use of plug-in vehicles and residential batteries; and on-site and renewable energy sources that can be integrated onto the electrical grid.

In the second group, an additional 16 awards for a total of $185 million will help fund utility-scale energy storage projects that will enhance the reliability and efficiency of the grid, while reducing the need for new electricity plants. Improved energy storage technologies will allow for expanded integration of renewable energy resources like wind and photovoltaic systems and will improve frequency regulation and peak energy management. The selected projects include advanced battery systems (including flow batteries), flywheels, and compressed air energy systems.

A full list by state of the all the projects is available here. Smart grid regional demonstrations involving plug-in vehicles include (ranked by DOE funding):

  • Columbus Southern Power Company (doing business as AEP Ohio). This project will Demonstrate a secure, interoperable and integrated smart grid infrastructure for 110,000 consumers in the state that will maximize distribution system efficiency and reliability and enable consumers to reduce their energy use and save money. The project will include 13 different technologies from the substation to the customer, including distribution automation and control, smart meters and appliances, home area networks, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, energy and battery storage, and renewable generation sources. These technologies are estimated to improve the reliability and efficiency of the distribution system 30-40%. (DOE funding $75,161,246, total project value with cost share $150,322,492).

  • Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. In partnership with a consortium of local research institutions, this project deploy smart grid systems at partners’ university campus properties and technology transfer laboratories. The demonstration projects will also include gathering data on how consumers use energy in a variety of systems, testing on the next generation of cybersecurity technologies, and how to integrate a significant number of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles onto the grid. (DOE funding $60,280,000, total project value including cost share $120,560,000).

  • Center for the Commercialization of Electric Technologies (TX). This project will manage the fluctuations in wind power in the large Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) transmission grid through better system monitoring capabilities, enhanced operator visualization, and improved load management. Project includes the installation of synchrophasors to enhance monitoring of grid conditions as variable wind resources move through the system, and the use of integrated Smart Grid technologies, including household and community battery storage, smart meters and appliances, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and homes equipped with 1-3 kW solar photovoltaics. (DOE funding $13,516,546, total project value including cost share $27,419,424).

  • Pecan Street Project (TX). This project will develop and implement an Energy Internet microgrid, located in a large mixed-use infill development site in Austin, Texas. This effort will build on Austin Energy’s existing Smart Grid programs by creating a microgrid that will initially link 1,000 residential smart meters, 75 commercial meters, and plug-in electric vehicle charging sites. The project will be implemented by a unique Texas not-for-profit corporation created to research, develop and implement smart grid clean energy systems. (DOE funding $10,403,570, total project value including cost share $24,656,485).

  • NSTAR Electric & Gas Corporation (MA). This project will demonstrate the use of advanced sensors and monitoring instrumentation on low voltage (secondary) networks in downtown Boston to improve grid reliability and safety. The project will provide additional visibility for operators, which will increase the system’s capacity to integrate on-site energy technologies, such as solar photovoltaic energy systems, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles or battery storage. (DOE funding $5,267,592, total project value including cost share $10,535,184).

The 16 utility-scale energy storage projects (ranked by DOE funding) are:

Utility-Scale Energy Storage Projects
Primary AwardeeProject Title and DescriptionDOE FundingTotal Project Value
New York State Electric & Gas Corporation Energy East Advanced CAES Demonstration Plant (150MW) Using an Existing Salt Storage Cavern. Demonstrate an advanced, less costly 150 MW Compressed Air Energy Storage (CAES) technology plant using an existing salt cavern. The project will be designed with an innovative smart grid control system to improve grid reliability and enable the integration of wind and other intermittent renewable energy sources. $29,561,142 $125,006,103
Pacific Gas & Electric Company (CA) Advanced Underground CAES Demonstration Project Using a Saline Porous Rock Formation as the Storage Reservoir. Build and validate the design, performance, and reliability of an advanced, underground 300 MW Compressed Air Energy Storage (CAES plant using a saline porous rock formation located near Bakersfield, CA as the storage reservoir. $25,000,000 $355,938,600
Southern California Edison Company Tehachapi Wind Energy Storage Project. Deploy and evaluate an 8 MW utility-scale lithium-ion battery technology to improve grid performance and aid in the integration of wind generation into the electric supply. The project will evaluate a wider range of applications for lithium-ion batteries that will spur broader demand for the technology, bringing production to a scale that will make this form of large energy storage more affordable. $24,978,264 $53,510,209
Beacon Power Corporation (MA) Beacon Power 20MW Flywheel Frequency Regulation Plant. Design, build, test, commission, and operate a utility-scale 20 MW flywheel energy storage frequency regulation plant in Chicago, Illinois, and provide frequency regulation services to the grid operator, the PJM Interconnection. The project will also demonstrate the technical, cost and environmental advantages of fast response flywheel-based frequency regulation management, lowering the cost to build a 20 MW flywheel energy storage plan to improve grid reliability while increasing the use of wind and solar power. $24,063,978 $48,127,957
Duke Energy Business Services, LLC (NC) Notrees Wind Storage. Deploy a wind energy storage demonstration project at the Notrees Windpower Project in western Texas. The project will demonstrate how energy storage and power storage technologies can help wind power systems address intermittency issues by building a 20 megawatt (MW) hybrid-energy storage system capable of optimizing the flow of energy. $21,806,232 $43,612,464
Primus Power Corporation (CA) Wind Firming EnergyFarm. Deploy a 25 MW - 75 MWh EnergyFarm for the Modesto Irrigation District in California’s Central Valley, replacing a planned $78M / 50 MW fossil fuel plant to compensate for the variable nature of wind energy providing the District with the ability to shift on-peak energy use to off-peak periods. $14,000,000 $46,700,000
Premium Power Corporation (MA) Premium Power Distributed Energy Storage System Demonstration for National Grid and Sacramento Municipal Utility District. Demonstrate competitively-priced, multi-megawatt, long-duration advanced flow batteries for utility grid applications. This three-year project incorporates engineering of fleet control, manufacturing and installation of seven 500-kW/6-hour TransFlow 2000 energy storage systems in California, Massachusetts, and New York to lower peak energy demand and reduce the costs of power interruptions. $7,320,000 $16,080,554
Seeo, Inc (CA) Solid State Batteries for Grid-Scale Energy Storage. -Develop and deploy a 25kWh prototype battery system based on Seeo’s proprietary nanostructured polymer electrolytes. This new class of advanced lithium-ion rechargeable battery will demonstrate the substantial improvements offered by solid state lithium-ion technologies for energy density, battery life, safety, and cost. These batteries would be targeted for utility-scale operations, particularly Community Energy Storage projects. $6,196,060 $12,392,120
SustainX, Inc. (NH) Demonstration of Isothermal Compressed Air Energy Storage to Support Renewable Energy Production. Design, build, and deploy a utility-scale, low-cost compressed air energy storage system to support the integration of renewable energy sources onto the grid. The 1 MW/4hr system will store potential energy in the form of compressed air in above-ground industrial pressure facilities. The technology utilizes isothermal gas cycling coupled with staged hydraulic compression and expansion to deliver an efficient and cost-effective energy storage solution. $5,396,023 $10,792,045
44 Tech Inc. (PA) Demonstration of Sodium Ion Battery for Grid Level Applications. Partner with Carnegie Mellon University to demonstrate a new, low cost, long-life, highly efficient, environmentally friendly, stationary energy storage battery that uses a proven and fully novel cell chemistry. Specifically, an aqueous sodium-ion based electrolyte is used in conjunction with simple highly scalable electrode materials housed in low cost packaging. $5,000,000 $10,000,000
The Detroit Edison Company (MI) Detroit Edison’s Advanced Implementation of A123’s Community Energy Storage Systems for Grid Support. Demonstrate the use and benefits of Community Energy Storage (CES) systems for utilities and test the ability to integrate secondary-use electric vehicle batteries as part of the CES demonstration. This project will install 20 CES units, 25kW/2hr each, into a system that includes a 1 MW storage device integrated into a solar system. $4,995,271 $10,877,258
Ktech Corporation (NM) Flow Battery Solution for Smart Grid Renewable Energy Applications. Demonstrate a prototype flow battery system that can be grid connected, charged and discharged, and scaled to utility power levels. The project will combine a proven redox flow battery chemistry with a unique, patented design to yield an energy storage system that meets the combined safety, reliability, and cost requirements for distributed energy storage. $4,764,284 $9,528,567
Amber Kinetics, Inc. (CA) Amber Kinetics Flywheel Energy Storage Demonstration. Develop and demonstrate an innovative flywheel technology for use in grid-connected, low-cost bulk energy storage applications. This demonstration effort, which partners with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, will improve on traditional flywheel systems, resulting in higher efficiency and cost reductions that will be competitive with pumped hydro technologies. $4,000,000 $10,000,000
City of Painesville (OH) Painesville Municipal Power Vanadium Redox Battery Demonstration Program. Demonstrate 1 MW vanadium redox battery (VRB) storage system at the 32 MW municipal coal fired power plant in Painesville. The project will provide operating data and experience to help the plant maintain its daily power output requirement more efficiently while reducing its carbon footprint. $3,743,570 $7,487,153
East Penn Manufacturing Co. (PA) Grid-Scale Energy Storage Demonstration for Ancillary Services Using the UltraBattery Technology. Demonstrate the economic and technical viability of a 3MW grid-scale, advanced energy storage system using the lead-carbon UltraBattery technology to regulate frequency and manage energy demand. This project will entail the construction of a dedicated facility on the East Penn campus in Lyon Station, PA that will be used as a working energy storage demonstration for UltraBattery modules. $2,245,523 $4,491,046
Public Service Company of New Mexico PV Plus Storage for Simultaneous Voltage Smoothing and Peak Shifting. Demonstrate how a 2.8MWh Zinc-Bromine flow battery along with a sophisticated control system turns a 500kW solar PV installation. into a reliable, dispatchable distributed generation resource. This hybrid resource will mitigate fluctuations in voltage normally caused by intermittent sources such as PV and wind and simultaneously store more energy for later use when customer demand peaks. $1,755,931 $5,851,303

This funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will be leveraged with $1 billion in funds from the private sector to support more than $1.6 billion in total Smart Grid projects nationally. These efforts will provide data on the benefits and cost-effectiveness of the Smart Grid, including energy and cost savings. An analysis by the Electric Power Research Institute estimates that implementing Smart Grid technologies could reduce electricity use by more than 4% by 2030.



Imagine a world where businesses can "take delivery" on power when it's cheapest and store it until it's needed, or even resell it when it's profitable to do so. That will require storage that is cheap enough and has a low enough loss rate to make it worthwhile.

Once wind and solar are cheap enough--and storage cost-effective enough--so that it is profitable to store excess power rather than waste it, that will turn wind and solar into "baseload" power, making a 100% renewable energy grid practical.


With some planning and foresight, we can have a better future. If we leave it up to the private sector "invisible hand" we will end up with whatever is profitable for some in the short run. We can see where that has left us.

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