FirstEnergy Corp. has signed an agreement with the Department of Energy for grants totaling $57.4 million to introduce "smart grid" technologies to improve the reliability and interactivity of the electric distribution infrastructure in targeted areas of its Pennsylvania, Ohio and New Jersey service territories. The grants were awarded in October of 2009 as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Overall, the company plans to invest a total of $114.9 million on smart grid technologies that will help determine the potential to enhance the operating performance of the local distribution system, and provide incentives to customers to reduce energy use and participate in demand response programs. The DOE grants will be matched by funding already approved for recovery over time by utility commissions in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. As a result, FirstEnergy will begin implementing programs in these states. The Ohio smart grid program is on hold, pending continuing commission review of the program proposal.
"FirstEnergy was one of 100 companies selected by the DOE to receive Smart Grid Investment Grants and we look forward to using new technologies to help our customers save energy and money," said John Paganie, vice president of Customer Service and Energy Efficiency for FirstEnergy. "Our goal is to use these smart grid programs in targeted areas to help lay the groundwork for possible widespread deployment and implementation."
The DOE grants and approved utility commission funding will be used to install smart grid technology in the York, Pennsylvania, area served by Metropolitan Edison Co., and expand the technology already deployed in a number of communities throughout the Jersey Central Power & Light service area:
- Met-Ed - A voluntary load control program for 23,000 customers in the York area will help reduce peak demand through an integrated system that directly controls air conditioners and other customer appliances during periods of high usage. In addition, deployment of distribution automation and related technologies will help enhance the reliability and efficiency of the system. All of these smart grid improvements will be supported by two-way communications.
- JCP&L - Expanding on smart grid technologies installed earlier this year, the project will use many of the same technologies and features being introduced in Pennsylvania. This voluntary control program involving more than 20,000 customers in New Jersey has the potential to reduce peak load by 30 megawatts.
Smart grid technologies - such as distributed automation, direct load control, smart metering, volt control, advanced protection devices and wireless security - would help improve system reliability and efficiency and enable customers to save money by better managing their energy usage.