The Smart Grid Investment Grant (SGIG) program, funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, was put in place to accelerate investments in grid modernization. The program makes available US$3.4 billion in federal funds matched with private-sector resources for a total investment of at least $7.8 billion. The Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability within the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is leading the grid-modernization efforts.

After the DOE conducted a competitive selection process, 99 projects in nearly every state received SGIG funds to demonstrate the benefits of a smarter grid. These projects bring together investor-owned and municipal utilities, vendors and research organizations to test technologies, streamline the implementation process and collect data on the realized smarter grid benefits. The projects were launched in early 2010 and are expected to complete equipment installation within the 2013-2014 timeframe. Data collection and analysis will be completed in 2015.

Florida Power & Light Co. 

Florida Power & Light Co.’s (FPL’s) Energy Smart Florida, one of the largest and most comprehensive of the SGIG projects, illustrates the variety and multitude of transmission and distribution grid innovations being implemented as a result of the grants. Parts of the $800 million project werealready underway with the utility’s smart meters installation. The $200 million DOE grant allowed FPL to accelerate its plans and implement incremental improvements in transmission and distribution, as well as to undertake some pilot projects.

FPL worked with new and current vendors for the smart grid equipment and engineering design process. “The in-home technology products we installed through a pilot program and several sensor devices on the distribution side are still relatively new in the market, requiring new design, installation and operation processes, and not as mature as the products we installed on the transmission and substation side,” said Bryan Olnick, FPL’s vice president of customer service smart grid solutions and meter services.

“Our program has been about more than just installing the sensing and monitoring devices. We wanted to use the new sensing technologies to get a better understanding of how robust and capable the technology is, and how to bring the information back into our control centers and diagnostic centers to improve our operations and the services we provide our customers.”