Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative is seeking $18.8 million in grant funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The funding will allow the cooperative to complete the next phase of its Sustainable Grid initiative.

"The $18.8 million in stimulus funding will enable Bluebonnet to more quickly and effectively implement the next generation of smart grid technology throughout its entire electric delivery system," said Mark Rose, Bluebonnet's general manager and CEO. "One of our primary goals with this technology is a 20 percent reduction in system load by 2020, which will benefit our members, the economy and the environment."

Bluebonnet has already completed modernization of its business information and outage management systems by installing two-way metering systems to all of its 80,000 meters across 11,000 miles of line. During the deployment of the next generation of smart grid technology, Bluebonnet will educate its members on how to use it to manage and conserve their energy.

Bluebonnet will begin in 2010 deploying the next generation of smart grid technology, including advanced meters capable of self reporting outages, a wireless and fiber communications network, and in-home wireless devices that will allow members to read their meter, understand their load and know the real time cost of their consumption. Bluebonnet will introduce a Web portal, which will provide every member access to the grid via the Internet and the cooperative will begin to implement an energy conservation and demand response program that will encourage members to set up energy networks to manage their electric load.

If Bluebonnet receives the grant funding, its Sustainable Grid initiative will create 10 new jobs at the cooperative and about 75 jobs at its chosen vendors through March of 2012. The cooperative has received letters of commitment from Siemens, Texas Meter Device Company, APOGEE Interactive, Inc., CDW, Control 4, Dell, Interfacing Company of Texas, Inc., MNJ Technologies and SAP America, Inc.

"The first phase of Bluebonnet's Sustainable Grid initiative made Bluebonnet a more efficient utility," said Matt Bentke, Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative COO. "In the next phase, we hope to help create sustainable communities that are empowered to manage and conserve energy, eventually having a net zero impact on the state's energy grid."