The Omaha Public Power District is applying for federal stimulus funds for a project using smart grid technology to accelerate modernization of the its electric grid system. If approved, the OPPD project that will cost around $7.8 million dollars. Stimulus funds would pay for half of that amount while the District would pay the remaining half.

Smart grid technology refers to the use of computers and other new technological systems that allow for more efficient delivery of electric power to homes and businesses. The U. S. Energy Department and others say that such technology may be able to lower energy usage and its cost, reduce power plant emissions and increase security for grid operations.

The OPPD project would immediately enable smart grid functions in the Omaha metropolitan area and 17 surrounding rural communities served by the District. Among other things, the project would expand the current capabilities of the Mobile Automated Meter Reading (AMR) system. It would erect a wireless system would support a number of new services and save the utility money.

The expanded system would eventually allow customers to compare their energy usage with similar customers and create the possibility of pre-paid metering.

The latest grant application by OPPD is one of at least sixteen applications submitted by the District alone or in partnerships seeking a portion of the $4 Billion that the Energy Department has set aside to encourage investment in smart grid technology and to stimulate the economy.

Among the other applications, the District is lead applicant for grants dealing with the Power Drive program, solar power, and emergency transmission supplies to be used in case of major outages.