In October 2009, the U.S. federal government awarded $3.4 billion in investment grants for 100 smart grid projects through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Approximately 30 investor-owned utilities and an equal number of municipals were selected as recipients of the grants, along with a few cooperative utility projects involving dozens of individual co-ops in different states. Industry will match the federal grants for a total investment of more than $8 billion, according to the Department of Energy (DOE).

Specifically, the grant program provides $1 billion for the installation of smart meters and related customer programs that will enable communication between utilities and customers. Approximately $2 billion is allotted for the infrastructure required to support networks of smart grids. Another $400 million will be used to modernize transmission lines, both to limit the losses during transmission and to allow greater long-distance transportation of power. An additional $25 million is earmarked for the development of smart device manufacturing capabilities.

All of the projects receiving the investment grants must be executed by April 19, 2013. The DOE will distribute the grant funds as project work progresses over that time period. As a stipulation of the funding, the companies submit detailed monthly progress reports that include schedule and cost updates to ensure that the work is being completed on schedule and within budget. On a quarterly basis, the companies must report on the number of jobs created. Semi-annually, they must identify the benefits realized from the projects. After April 2013, the companies must report on the project benefits up to two years after completion.

All of the states, with the exception of Alaska, have smart grid projects that received investment grants. The majority of the awardees were utility companies, though hundreds of technology solutions companies will benefit from increased business with utility clients because of the grant funds.

Smart Grid Benefits

In announcing the smart grid investment grants, Energy Secretary Steven Chu explained in a press release how the United States will benefit from smart grid.

“These investments will be used to develop a smart, strong and secure electrical grid that will help integrate renewable resources onto the grid, deliver power more reliably and effectively with less environmental impact, and create new jobs across the country,” said Chu. “By investing in updating the grid now, we will lower utility bills for American families and businesses, lessen our dependence on oil and help advance a clean energy future for the nation.”

The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) estimates that the large-scale use of smart grid technologies may reduce electricity use by more than 4% and save consumers $20.4 billion by 2030. According to the DOE, the combined effect of the fully implemented smart grid projects receiving the investment grants will reduce peak electricity demand by more than 1400 MW, which is the equivalent of several large power plants.

“A robust smart grid will fulfill a number of requirements in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 and chart a more secure, reliable and sustainable energy future for the United States,” said Eric Woychik, an industry smart grid expert at Black & Veatch. “Ultimately, smart grid will enable lower cost compliance with the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and increasing Environmental Protection Agency requirements through cleaner energy supplies and demand-side management. The smart grid future will be driven by dynamic grid trading and optimization, smart energy management systems, demand response and real-time pricing.”

Smart grid infrastructure is critical to large-scale deployment of renewable energy technologies, according to David Leeds, a smart grid analyst at GTM Research.

“Renewable energy technologies have long suffered from an inability to scale,” Leeds said. “This is partly due to these new generation resources and the corresponding loads being located far from population centers. This presents the challenge of adding new transmission.

“However, a much greater challenge, due to the fact that electricity still cannot be stored in a cost-effective manner, is trying to instantaneously match total generation to total system demand as we attempt to shift away from the traditional base-load sources,” Leeds said. “Smart grid, with its added advanced communications network, helps solve this challenge by providing better situational awareness of these generation assets as well as the ability to proactively shift total system demand to match supply.”

Matt Wakefield, smart grid program manager at EPRI, added that because renewable energy generation is intermittent in nature, predicting the availability of these resources is challenging.

“It is important to communicate generation output with utility system operators, or even directly to local distributed energy resources to mitigate the effects of varying generation output,” Wakefield said. “With communication costs decreasing and communication becoming more ubiquitous when combined with low-cost computing power, a smart grid infrastructure can help to manage both supply and demand resources.”

In addition to facilitating the integration of large amounts of renewable energy, Leeds believes the administration is trying to ensure the fundamental energy platform is in place to help the nation grow GDP and stay competitive in the global marketplace.

“It is now clear that we will not be able to run 21st century economies on 20th century power grids,” Leeds said.

Progress to date on stimulus projects is shown for selected utilities below in each of the appropriate categories.

Integrated and/or Crosscutting Systems

Recovery Act Selections for Smart Grid Investment Grant Awards
Partial listing of Integrated and/or Crosscutting Systems
(headquarters location for lead applicant)
Funding awarded Total project value including cost share Brief project description
Sacramento Municipal Utility District
(Sacramento, California)
$127,506,261 $307,737,084 Install a comprehensive regional smart grid system from transmission to the customer that includes 600,000 smart meters, dynamic pricing, 100 electric-vehicle charging stations and 50,000 demand-response controls, including programmable smart thermostats, home energy management systems.
Electric Power Board of Chattanooga
(Chattanooga, Tennessee, with additional benefits in Georgia)
$111,567,606 $226,707,562 Deploy a smart meter network to all 170,000 utility customers, complete fiber-extension construction throughout the service area, automate subtransmission and distribution systems, enable customer systems and allow modeling for dynamic energy pricing.
Vermont Transco, LLC
(Rutland, Vermont)
$68,928,650 $137,857,302 Expand the deployment of Vermont smart meters from the current 28,000 to 300,000, implement customer systems such as in-home displays and digitally controlled appliances, secure control systems for substations and generation facilities, and automate the electric distribution and transmission system grids.
City of Fort Collins
(Fort Collins, Colorado)
$18,101,263 $36,202,527 Install 79,000 smart meters and in-home demand response systems including in-home displays, smart thermostats and air conditioning and water heater control switches, automate transmission and distribution systems, and enhance grid security.
New Hampshire Electric Cooperative
(Plymouth, New Hampshire)
$15,815,225 $35,144,946 Modernize the distribution and metering system by deploying advanced meters for all 75,000 members and installing a wide-area telecom network consisting of microwave and fiber links throughout the service territory.
City of Leesburg, Florida
(Leesburg, Florida)
$9,748,812 $19,497,625 Enable new energy-efficiency and conservation programs to all 23,000 electric consumers through deployment of smart meter networks, energy management for municipal buildings, integrated distributed generation, and new substation power transformer with enhanced monitoring and control. Key consumer initiatives include time-differentiated rates and demand-response options for reducing peak load.
City of Wadsorth, Ohio
(Wadsworth, Ohio)
$5,411,768 $10,823,539 Deploy smart meters to more than 12,500 of the city's customers, implement the communications infrastructure needed for two-way communications, automate distribution and substation operations, enhance cyber security systems and prepare the grid for the broader deployment of plug-in hybrid electric-vehicle charging.

PECO Energy

When the Obama administration announced that it was making $3.4 million available in federal grants for smart grid projects, the timing was just right for PECO Energy. At the time, the utility was developing plans to meet the requirements of Act 129 passed by the Pennsylvania legislature. The legislation requires Pennsylvania utilities to reduce their overall load by 1% by 2011, by 3% by 2013 and to reduce the peak 100 hours by 4.5% by 2013.

Though the DOE's reasons for selecting grant awardees is confidential, Glen Pritchard, a senior project manager at PECO Energy, said that the legislation may be one reason PECO was selected to receive a maximum grant of $200 million in the Integrated and/or Crosscutting Systems category.

“The legislation ensures that PECO Energy follows through on the entire smart grid system in a timely fashion,” Pritchard said.

Another reason that PECO may have received the top grant award was the 600,000 smart meters — about one-third of the company's total meters — specified for its smart grid project, Pritchard said.

“Also, PECO may have been awarded the top grant because of our experience,” Pritchard said. “We have done a lot with our existing AMR [automatic meter reading] platform, with our distributed automation platform. That experience lends credibility to what we are proposing to do with our smart grid project.”

Initially, PECO staff went through a lengthy evaluation to determine if the utility should apply for the grant.

“First, we learned about the requirements of the grant and what the administration was trying to accomplish in making the money available,” Pritchard said. “We looked at the upcoming state legislation as well as the implications of receiving the grant money, including the reporting requirements. We determined that receiving the grant would offset the cost of our project by nearly 50%, so it was worth applying for it.”

Those applying for the grant were limited to 40 pages for their application, though they could attach documents, so the utility staff described its proposed project very concisely. Pritchard said the biggest challenge was that the utility faced two important deadlines back to back. The grant application was due Aug. 6, 2009, and its smart meter plan for the state was due just a few days later on Aug. 14.

“That was quite the double whammy for our legal and regulatory staff,” Pritchard said.

PECO's smart grid project has several phases. Currently, the utility is doing the back office work — preparing its billing system and changing its business practices — to prepare for the smart meters.

“PECO Energy is somewhat unique in that we are not installing smart meters and reading them manually,” Pritchard said. “Instead, when we install a smart meter, it must be ready to bill that day. That has forced us not to begin installing until 2012.

“In the meantime, we are making changes so we will be able to handle the interval data coming off the meters,” Pritchard said. “It will be minimally configured to send hourly data on each customer. We will have other features such as the ability to monitor voltage for our voltage reduction program. That will increase energy efficiency and lower our overall load.”

The smart meters only represent about two-thirds of PECO's smart grid project. The utility is developing a systemwide communication network of 340 miles of fiber-optic cables, which is a Tier 1 network. The advanced meter infrastructure (AMI) or smart meter solution is the Tier 3 system. There will be a Tier 2 system that will act as a bridge between the two. Parts of the system will be connected to fiber, while another part will be a two-way radio system. PECO might also use a Wi-Max solution. Then PECO would have a fourth tier as well that would be from the meter to the customer.

“Beyond the communication and AMI side, there are substation and automation upgrades or new devices,” Pritchard said. “Right now, PECO has close to 1300 distribution reclosers installed across the system. The AMI network will be used to provide more effective communications to those devices. We will introduce another 100 reclosures as a result of the stimulus funding. We will be doing some substation work as well to make sure that we have a secure system that meets evolving standards.”

Pritchard said the total cost of PECO's smart grid system would be between $400 million and $450 million.

“This is our opportunity to transform all the elements of the business into one of the most modern, effective systems available,” Pritchard said.

Florida Power & Light

Florida Power & Light received a $200 million economic stimulus grant for its smart grid initiative, Energy Smart Florida. The program includes deployment of more than 900,000 intelligent devices to enhance the utility's transmission and distribution system, upgrades to its centers that monitor grid performance and smart meters for 4.5 million customers throughout its service area. Energy Smart Florida represents a total investment of $800 million. With the $200 million federal grant, the remainder will be funded by FPL.

FPL's smart grid technology projects include:

  • Replacing electromechanical protective relay equipment with state-of-the-art computer-based systems as part of the utility's transmission and substation protection and control projects. The utility is proceeding with the deployment of approximately 50 such systems through 2012.

  • Deploying 200 planned automatic feeder switch (AFS) projects.

  • Installing 45 phasor measurement units at substations throughout the grid.

  • Installing more than a dozen digital disturbance recorders.

  • Deploying feeder breaker and regulator intelligent electronic devices at more than 100 distribution substations.

  • Installing approximately 80,000 smart meters on commercial accounts.

  • Launching a small pilot project to sample customers in regard to in-home energy displays and controllers with smart meter rates.

  • Installing enhanced diagnostic systems to collect, interpret and disseminate important data from the smart grid technologies to improve reliability and management of the electric grid.

The company has been involved in smart grid planning and deployment for several years. For example, FPL conducted extensive testing on AMI meters in residences in 2007-2008 and created its own lab to test equipment before it is installed. To date, FPL has deployed more than 800,000 meters for its residential and small business customers.

FPL is currently deploying a wide range of smart grid technologies, including smart meters at a rate of nearly 24,000 per week.

“We believe FPL was chosen as one of six utilities to receive DOE's maximum grant because of our ability to plan and implement a large, cross-functional program like the smart grid during the required time frame,” said Bob Triana, FPL's project operations manager for the smart grid initiative. “Our understanding of the significance of cyber security and technical standards, and our commitment to addressing them, is also important.”

Progress Energy

Progress Energy also received the top grant of $200 million in the Integrated and/or Crosscutting Systems category. In addition to the federal funds, Progress Energy's two utilities, which serve 3.1 million customers in the Carolinas and Florida, will invest more than $300 million in smart grid projects.

In its grant application, Progress Energy described its project as “building a smart grid virtual power plant through conservation, efficiency and advanced load-shaping technologies, including the installation of more than 160,000 smart meters.”

“Every utility approaches the smart grid differently,” said Jeff Brooks, a Progress Energy spokesperson. “Progress Energy is making investments in our energy-delivery infrastructure first, in order to make the grid more intelligent and efficient. This foundation will enable us to create new programs that will provide real benefits to our customers.”

Progress Energy's smart grid program has the following long-term goals:

  • Distribution demand response — Replace traditional voltage reduction capability with advanced peak load reduction and efficiency capabilities.

  • Commercial advanced metering initiative — Install approximately 80,000 smart meters on commercial accounts.

  • Targeted advanced metering initiative — Replace approximately 80,000 small commercial/residential manually read meters with smart meters.

  • Residential program development infrastructure — Test new program offerings, rate structures and technologically enabled features to monitor customer behavior patterns to determine viable programs to offer.

  • Condition-based monitoring — Enable real-time assessment of transformer health to signal impending equipment failure.

  • Feeder segmentation initiative — Enable faster isolation of power outages and equipment problems.

In terms of the long-term benefits of its smart grid program, the company predicts a $250 million savings in fuel and operational costs; 243,000 MWh of energy-efficiency savings; 610-MW peak load reduction; and 235 tons per year in reduction of CO2 emissions.

“Smart grid is a journey,” said Brooks, “and our initiative reflects our long-term commitment to a state-of-the-art power system as part of a balanced approach to meeting the needs of our customers.”

Duke Energy

Duke Energy received the top grant of $200 million to modernize the utility's power distribution system. It also received $4 million to help fund the installation of digital equipment on the transmission system in the Carolinas.

The utility is taking an end-to-end approach to smart grid deployment where the meter is just one piece. As part of those efforts, the company is also deploying distribution automation equipment to enable remote control and, in some cases, automate the grid's operation.

The essential part of the deployment is a communications device the utility calls the “communication node,” said Paige Layne, a Duke Energy spokesperson. The communication node is installed alongside electric transformers. These boxes gather information from all of the digital devices installed on the grid and then send the information to computers back to Duke Energy offices where it is sorted and used for billing, products and services, and system operations.

The company currently has approval for full deployment in Ohio, which includes 1.2 million electric and gas meters, 137,000 communication nodes and several other switches, line sensors and capacitors. Installation is underway and should be completed within the next four years, Layne said.

At press time, the company was awaiting commission approval for a scaled deployment in Indiana that includes meters, distribution automation equipment, communication devices and solar panels. It also was finalizing deployment plans in Kentucky, North Carolina and South Carolina. The company expects to be fully deployed in all five states by 2017.

“Smart grid infrastructure will provide the launching pad for what's next in the utility space,” said Layne. “New applications and opportunities to optimize energy production, energy delivery and energy use, along with enhanced customer products and services, are the reasons deploying the digital technology is important. In the long term, the smart grid will enable technologies such as distributed generation, home energy management and countless others.”

Advanced Metering Infrastructure Category

Recovery Act Selections for Smart Grid Investment Grant Awards
Partial listing of Advanced Metering Infrastructure
(headquarters location for lead applicant)
Funding awarded Total project value including cost share Brief project description
Reliant Energy Retail Services, LLC
(Houston, Texas)
$19,994,000 $65,515,000 Installation of a 140,000 smart meter network that includes meters, two-way communications, computer systems and a distribution network that will provide accurate, timely information about customer electricity consumption.
City of Glendale Water and Power
(Glendale, California)
$20,000,000 $51,302,425 Install 84,000 smart meters and a meter control system that will provide customers access to date about their electricity usage and enable dynamic rate programs.
Pacific Northwest Generating Cooperative
(Portland, Oregon, with additional benefits in Washington, Idaho, Nevada, Utah and Montana)
$19,577,326 $39,154,651 Implement a smart grid system, including more than 95,000 smart meters, substation equipment and load-management devices that will integrate 15 electric cooperatives across four states using a central data-collection software system hosted by the Pacific Northwest Generating Cooperative.
Cobb Electric Membership Corp.
(Marietta, Georgia)
$16,893,836 $33,787,672 Deploy 190,000 smart meters, covering 100% of the utility's customer base. Implement communication infrastructure and load control switches using state-of-the-art interoperable systems, servers and data-management technologies.
Black Hills/Colorado Electric Utility Co.
(Pueblo, Colorado)
$6,142,854 $12,285,708 Install 42,000 smart meters and communications infrastructure that will help facilitate meter reading and provide a pilot for a dynamic pricing program.
Navajo Tribal Utility Association
(Ft. Defiance, Arizona, with additional benefits in New Mexico and Utah)
$4,991,750 $9,983,500 Install a smart grid network and data-management system for all of its 38,000 customers. Integrate the smart grid system as part of the distribution network, which will help quickly identify any system outages.

CenterPoint Energy

CenterPoint Energy's electric distribution and transmission subsidiary, CenterPoint Energy Houston Electric, LLC, received a $200 million grant to accelerate the deployment of more than 2 million smart meters by almost two years to mid-2012 as part of its advanced metering system (AMS).

The grant also will go toward the installation of the first phase of its grid hardening and automation project called Intelligent Grid. The total cost of the AMS and Intelligent Grid projects between 2010 and 2012 is about $640 million.

“Increasing the reliability and self-healing capability of the company's grid is a national objective because a significant portion of the nation's critical energy and petrochemical infrastructure is located in the company's hurricane-susceptible service area,” said Kenny Mercado, division senior vice president of CenterPoint Energy's Regulated Operations Technology. “Additionally, until our AMS is fully deployed, the 30 or more active retail electric providers serving consumers in the company's deregulated electric distribution service territory may be hesitant to offer a full set of dynamic pricing options.

“However, the expected array of additional pricing programs that should be available in our electric service area in the future will provide the DOE with extensive data to measure the benefits of smart grid in a competitive market,” added Mercado. “Fully completed, our smart grid will serve as a leading example of an integrated, cyber-secure, scalable and replicable smart grid. Our expanded Energy InSight Technology Center is being used to test various smart grid components and to further evaluate security of new technologies as well as to educate customers, vendors and other stakeholders about the benefits of smart grid technology.”

Once the smart grid project is completed, CenterPoint Energy anticipates the smart grid technology will increase electric reliability and the company's ability to rapidly restore power following outages. The company estimates that the monetary benefits of this improved reliability will be significant considering the critical energy infrastructure within the greater Houston area.

Baltimore Gas and Electric Co.

Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. also received a $200 million investment grant after the utility amended its proposal based on terms set forth by state regulators on how the utility can pass on infrastructure costs to ratepayers. Those terms state that BGE would cover the early costs to install smart meters in homes and businesses and wouldn't be able to seek reimbursement through rate increases to its 1.2 million customers until the project is demonstrated to be cost-effective by 2014 at the earliest.

The company anticipates that its smart grid program will deliver a minimum of $2.5 billion in savings over the life of the project, as well as new enhancements in customer service and electric reliability at a cost to residential customers that is reduced by 80% as a result of a $200 million federal stimulus grant.

BGE plans to begin installing 1.2 million electric meters in late 2011 with a completion date of 2014. With these meters, customers will be able to participate in a new pricing program where they can earn rebates for voluntarily reducing their load during peak events. Also, customers will have access to an advanced web portal where they can view an estimate of their current charges to date, see an estimate of their monthly bill, compare their usage to like customers and receive energy-savings tips. These new services are expected to save customers money and reduce peak load by hundreds of megawatts, according to the utility. This in turn should limit the need for future generation, reduce transmission congestion, improve grid reliability and defer investments in transmission and distribution infrastructure.

“Though it remains effective and dependable, the power grid that drives much of our economy today was designed for an analog era in which energy was taken for granted,” said BGE President Kenneth DeFontes in an op-ed piece to the Baltimore Sun. “But the global competition for scarce resources, rising energy costs and concern about climate change have made us more aware of our energy use and how it affects our world … Just as computers and the smart phone transformed communications, smart grid technology is where megawatts meet megabytes, fundamentally changing how we think about and use energy.

“BGE has been working hard to drive this (smart grid) innovation that utilizes technology critical to our state's and nation's efforts to address costs, energy independence and clean energy while creating hundreds of new jobs,” wrote DeFontes. “The scale of those challenges requires an effort of equal scale.”

Electric Distribution Systems

Recovery Act Selections for Smart Grid Investment Grant Awards
Partial listing of Electric Distribution Systems
(headquarters location for lead applicant)
Funding awarded Total project value including cost share Brief project description
PPL Electric Utilities Corp.
(Allentown, Pennsylvania)
$19,054,516 $38,109,032 Deploy a distribution management system and smart grid technologies to monitor and control the grid in real time, improve system reliability and energy resource optimization, and provide the infrastructure for distributed generation and broader energy-efficiency efforts.
Snohomish County Public Utilities District
(Everett, Washington)
$15,825,817 $31,651,634 Install a smart grid framework on the utility side, including a digital telecommunications network, substation automation and a robust distribution system infrastructure that will allow enable the implementation of future smart grid technologies including smart meters that will provide real-time energy-use information to customers.
Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia
(Atlanta, Georgia)
$12,267,350 $24,534,700 Install information technology and smart grid upgrades throughout the system, including on substations, routers and network terminal units, to reduce peak demand and system maintenance costs.
NSTAR Electric Co.
(Norfolk, Massachusetts)
$10,061,883 $20,123,766 Expand the system's distribution automation capabilities by implementing “self-healing” functions on the grid that will reduce the impact of outages on the system and the power quality and efficiency of the distribution grid.
Hawaii Electric Co. Inc.
(Oahu, Hawaii)
$5,347,598 $10,695,195 Automate high load distribution circuits feeding eastern Oahu, reducing outage duration and community impacts. Enable workforce retraining and preserve jobs through cross-training and creation of new skill sets within the utility.
Memphis Light, Gas and Water Division (Memphis, Tennessee) $5,063,469 $10,548,894 Install digital upgrades, including a high-speed data communication and control system, to the electric distribution system, which will improve power quality, reduce maintenance costs and serve as the backbone for future smart grid enhancements.
Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative
(Manassas, Virginia)
$5,000,000 $10,000,000 Expand substation and distribution automation and control, including adding a new two-way communication infrastructure to the existing fiber-optic and microwave communications, which will improve system reliability and reduce peak demand.

Consolidated Edison

Consolidated Edison received a grant of $136 million in the Electric Distribution Systems category for its smart grid projects that will total $272 million. The utility serves 3 million customers in New York City and Westchester County, New York, one of the highest load densities in the world.

Aseem Kapur, who manages the smart grid project receiving the investment funding, explained what makes the utility's projects distinctive.

“Our smart grid project is geared toward deploying proven technologies and things that we are already doing as a utility,” Kapur said. “This sets us apart from some of the other large grantees who are using cost-base analysis based on a lot of assumptions that are yet to be proven. That's an important distinction of our smart grid strategy as a company.”

Con Edison's project includes:

  • On the Flushing intelligent underground auto-loop, install remote-controlled switches to reduce the risk of large network outages. The large network will be divided into three smaller networks, and four new feeders and 26 underground switches will be installed.

  • Install remote-controlled switches on the overhead and underground sectionalizing switches.

  • Implement a cyber-secure supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system for operation of overhead and underground switches.

  • Upgrade underground transformers with pressure-temperature-oil level sensors.

  • Implement real-time monitoring of large critical customers.

  • On Staten Island, install a wireless control system to enable control of 180 underground transformers as well as to integrate distributed generation into the control center.

  • Install capacitors, tap changer controllers and control system software to improve efficiency of the 4-kV overhead distribution grids.

  • Improve modeling and visualization of the grid to enhance planning and reinforcement.

  • Install phase monitoring units on several of the company's 345-kV transmission lines and implement the necessary communication to the NYISO control center.

Con Edison formed a new group in the company to implement these projects. In January 2010, the group created a detailed project design and awarded all the major equipment required for the project in 2010 soon thereafter. Work on some of the large projects has already begun. In 2010, the company expects to spend $50 million on these projects.

Electric Transmission Systems

Recovery Act Selections for Smart Grid Investment Grant Awards
Partial listing of Electric Transmission Systems
(headquarters location for lead applicant)
Funding awarded Total project value including cost share Brief project description
New York Independent System Operator Inc.
(Rensselaer, New York)
$37,382,908 $75,710,735 Deploy a range of smart grid technologies, including 35 new phasor measurement units and 19 phasor data concentrators, across New York to allow area-wide control, and an open, flexible, interoperable, secure and expandable communications system that will work in concert with the existing control and monitoring systems.
Midwest Independent Transmission System Operator
(Carmel, Indiana, with additional benefits in Iowa, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota and Wisconsin)
$17,271,738 $34,543,476 Install, test, integrate and monitor 150 phasor measurement units in strategic locations across the Midwest on independent transmissions system operators, which will improve the energy dispatching, system reliability and planning capabilities.
PJM Interconnection, LLC
(Norristown, Pennsylvania, with additional benefits in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia)
$13,698,091 $27,840,072 Deploy over 90 phasor measurement units and other digital monitoring and analysis technologies across 10 states that will provide real-time data on the operating conditions of the transmission system, improving reliability and reducing congestion.
American Transmission Co., LLC
(Waukesha, Wisconsin)
$11,444,180 $22,888,360 Build a fiber-optics communications network for high-speed communications to maximize the full capability of phasor measurement networks across ATC's transmission system.
Entergy Services Inc.
(New Orleans, Louisiana)
$4,611,201 $9,222,402 Build a foundation for increased grid monitoring, including the installation of 18 new phasor measurement units and training and educating grid operators and engineers on the use of phasor technology to improve critical decision making on grid operations.
Duke Energy Carolinas, LLC
(Charlotte, North Carolina)
$3,927,899 $7,855,797 Install 45 phasor measurement units in substations across the Carolinas and upgrade communications infrastructure and technology at the corporate control center.
Midwest Energy Inc.
(Hays, Kansas)
$712,257 $1,424,514 Install new microprocessor-based protective relays and communications equipment at Midwest Energy's Knoll substation to increase transmission system reliability, enhance synchrophasor measurement and concentration, and facilitate the integration of renewable energy.

Western Electricity Coordinating Council

On the transmission side, Western Electricity Coordinating Council (WECC) received the top grant of $53.9 million in the category to upgrade its transmission system, which serves 14 Western states, parts of Canada and a small portion of Baja, California. The project, called the Western Interconnection Synchrophasor Program (WISP), is funded for $107.8 million with nine WISP participants providing the remaining funding.

The funding will be used to install more than 250 new or upgraded synchrophasor measurement units, build out a new west-wide synchrophasor data communications network, install IT infrastructure, and deploy a suite of real-time and offline applications.

Synchrophasors are precise grid measurements now available from monitors called phasor measurement units (PMUs). PMU measurements are taken at high speed and time stamped according to a common time reference. Time stamping allows synchrophasors from different utilities to be time-aligned, or synchronized and, combined together, provide a precise and comprehensive view of the entire interconnection.

WISP is lead by nine partners throughout the Western Interconnection, including: Western Electricity Coordinating Council, Pacific Gas and Electric, California Independent System Operator, Idaho Power Co., NV Energy, PacifiCorp, Southern California Edison, Arizona's Salt River Project and Bonneville Power Administration. BPA has been performing significant research and development in PMUs for more than two decades and is a leader in testing and installing such systems.

Scheduled for full implementation in March 2013, WISP's synchrophasor measurement system will be used by WECC and partner entities to identify and analyze system vulnerabilities and evolving disturbances on the Western bulk electric system. This early warning mechanism will enable WECC and partner entities to take timely actions to avoid widespread system blackouts. Synchrophasor data also will be used by WECC and partner entities for systemwide model validation and system performance analysis.

The synchrophasor technology then will be more available to integrate renewable resources, improve the operator's situational awareness of the status and vulnerabilities of the system in real time, and develop and implement real-time controls.

“Wind is a significant energy resource in the West, and WISP will help us better integrate it into the Western Interconnection,” said Mark Maher, WECC's COO. “WISP provides power system controls that will help stabilize the system. It also will provide data that will help us validate models that are used to represent wind generation and to accurately determine the power system's operating limits.”

Paving the Way for the Future

Very soon, the intelligent grid will change the way utilities operate and how customers use energy.

“As the smart grid matures, the two-way communications infrastructure and the collection of smart meter data will enable utilities to design programs to conserve and more efficiently manage energy,” said Kurt Westermann, a smart grid expert at Black & Veatch. “Integration of consumers into energy-efficiency initiatives will empower them to participate in load-shifting and load-reducing programs such as time-of-use pricing and demand response. In-home smart grid communication devices will also enable distributed generation initiatives.”

FPL's Bob Triana explained the significance of the smart grid projects receiving the investment grants.

“As for the nation's energy strategy, we're doing things here in smart grid that we believe will be of tremendous value nationally,” Triana said. “Utilities like FPL and others, working collaboratively with the DOE, are helping set the standards and the path forward for our entire industry. The work we're doing now with smart grid will help pave the way for the more efficient use of the nation's energy resources, improve reliability for customers and contribute to renewed economic growth.”

Editor's note: Additional information, including the complete list of all recipients of Recovery Act Smart Grid Investment Grant Awards, is available from the Department of Energy at

Smart Grid Priorities for the Next 10 Years
Improving service reliability and operational efficiency (45%)
Implementing smart metering (41%)
Developing demand-response and energy-efficiency programs (37%)
Updating physical infrastructure (23%)
Offering real-time pricing options (17%)
Increasing your renewable portfolio (15%)
Optimizing existing business processes (14%)
Used with permission from the report “Smart Grid Challenges and Choices: Utility Executives' Vision for the New Decade,” produced by Oracle.
What smart grid components will see wide-scale utility adoption most quickly?
Smart metering (63%)
Demand response and critical peak pricing (48%)
Smart distribution and/or transmission operation devices (38%)
Integration of renewable (30%)
Increase in smart sensors on the network (26%)
Accommodation of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (21%)
Used with permission from the report “Smart Grid Challenges and Choices: Utility Executives' Vision for the New Decade,” produced by Oracle.

A Small Utility's Perspective

Small utilities also have stories to share about receiving stimulus funding for their small-scale smart grid projects. Midwest Energy, which serves 48,000 electric customers in western Kansas, received a $712,257 grant in the electric transmission system category.

Ray Harold, Midwest Energy's vice president of engineering, explained the significance of the utility's smart grid project:

Our smart grid project involves replacing all electromechanical relays and the control house at our existing Knoll substation with SEL [Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories] microprocessor-based relays in a “drop-in” control house, also provided by SEL. A key feature is that the project will include the activation of the phasor measurement unit (PMU) functionality of the SEL relays, which will be used to deliver synchrophasor data to the North American Synchrophasor Initiative's Super Data Concentrator at TVA. The data points delivered are the first from the state of Kansas and are perhaps the farthest most western point within the Eastern Interconnect.

The PMU function will assist both the regional independent system operator (Southwest Power Pool) and the DOE in evaluating the impact of high-wind penetration in a relatively weak transmission area. Ultimately, this should facilitate renewable development by mitigating operational concerns associated with high penetration of an intermittent resource.

We believe our project was chosen to receive a grant because it is a modestly sized and priced project with multiple discernible benefits such as synchrophasor data, renewable development and improved transmission reliability. Knoll substation represents both a current and future hub of the transmission network in the western half of Kansas. This position will be enhanced by the construction and interconnection of the Spearville - Knoll - Axtel 345-kV transmission line.