Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co. has been notified by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) that its application for $130 million in stimulus funding to accelerate the Positive Energy Smart Grid program has been accepted for award, pending final negotiations next month.
At the same time President Barack Obama was in Florida, announcing all of the recipients included in the $3.4 billion Smart Grid Investment Grant awards program to improve the nation's electricity infrastructure.
The stimulus grant would cover more than 40% of the cost of a rollout of OG&E's smart grid program across the utility's entire service territory. According to Delaney, receipt of the grant monies is contingent upon approval by the Oklahoma Corporation Commission (OCC) for matching fund recovery and successful negotiations with the DOE on final details of the award.
OG&E applied in August for the matching funds to speed up the deployment of smart grid technology across its 30,000-square mile territory in Oklahoma and western Arkansas. A smart grid requires the installation of smart meters (digital electrical meters) at customer premises to replace existing electric meters. The meters transmit information about electricity use to the utility company via a newly installed wireless communications network. The network equipment can be located on streetlights, utility poles and/or other towers in the vicinity of the smart meters. In addition, automation technology will be installed on key distribution power lines to provide automatic power restoration capability and improve service reliability to customers.
Customers can use information received through the wireless network to better manage their electricity use and costs. OG&E can use the smart grid network to remotely turn service on and off, to read meters and to receive automatic notification of outages, enabling faster restoral times.
OG&E is the only recipient in Oklahoma, and one of only 100 private companies, utilities, manufacturers, cities and other partners in 49 of the 50 states that received notification of the Smart Grid Investment Grant awards. Twenty-five percent of the entities who applied last summer received awards notification.
The announcement comes as OG&E finalizes plans for installation next year of smart grid technology in Norman, Oklahoma. The OCC approved recovery of the cost of the Norman deployment in OG&E's most recent rate case, and the company credits that approval and the initiation of the Norman project with moving OG&E to the forefront for smart grid funding.
About 42,000 new digital smart meters will be installed on virtually all customer homes and businesses in Norman. A wireless communications network also will be deployed between OG&E and its customers, referred to as automatic metering infrastructure. During the same time, about 3,000 Norman customers will be equipped with new communicating programmable thermostats and energy-use display devices to help them track and control their electricity use and costs. Also, automatic switching devices will be installed on several Norman circuits to provide automated re-routing of electricity when an outage occurs.