Oncor has notified the U.S. Department of Energy of its intent to apply for approximately $317 million in stimulus funds to advance one of the nation’s broadest and most advanced smart grid initiatives. In its applications, Oncor will request:

  • $200 million to lower the cost for the Smart Texas advanced meter system initiative,
  • more than $58 million for telecommunications and network investments to support the smart grid initiatives, and
  • more than $58 million for distribution automation to improve service and reliability.

Oncor will officially request federal stimulus funds available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 on or before the Aug. 6 deadline. In February, the federal government outlined a number of objectives for the energy portion of the bill, including creating 3.5 million jobs over two years, reducing the nation’s dependence on foreign energy sources, lowering environmental impacts by reducing energy use and carbon dioxide emissions, and piloting and demonstrating new emerging technologies.

“Oncor’s vision for a modern, interactive, intuitive electric grid is real, tangible and happening now. Our first considerations in seeking these stimulus grants are whether the funds will help consumers lower their electric bills or advance smart grid initiatives to improve service and reliability. That’s where we have focused our attention and energy,” said Bob Shapard, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Oncor.

Oncor’s smart grid program is an all-encompassing transformation of Oncor’s electric grid underpinned by the installation of 3.4 million advanced meters and related communications systems. New, state-of-the-art meters now rolling out across Oncor’s system are capable of recording data every 15 minutes and reporting energy use real-time to customers through an in-home monitor, as well as provide Oncor with valuable power disruption information oftentimes before the consumer becomes aware of it.

So far, Oncor has installed close to 250,000 advanced meters in the nation’s largest full-scale deployment. Expected to be completed in 2012, the advanced metering initiative represents the gateway to new programs and services, including time-of-use pricing, smart appliances that can tell when the price for power is lowest, and plug-in hybrid and electric vehicle fleets fueled by off-peak, clean, renewable wind energy.

Because informing consumers is central to the success of the Smart Texas project, Oncor introduced a customer education program to inform the public about the benefits of the new meters. For more information on the Smart Texas initiative, visit .

“The ability to monitor energy use real-time, to know exactly how much power you are using and what it costs, is the key to controlling energy bills,” said Shapard. “With advanced meters in constant communication with a home or business, Oncor will have more information than ever before about service and reliability. Retail electric providers will also have the tools to design programs that fit the needs of their customers.”

Also, Oncor will apply for stimulus funds to continue to expand its advanced distribution automation program. Funds will be used to increase the deployment of smart switches that isolate problems in neighborhoods and reconfigure power lines to route power to restore service. The funds will also expand programs to improve the control of feeder voltage through capacitor control, to speed locating the problems, and to modernize the monitoring and control of major downtown electric networks. Oncor is also proposing an upgrade to its telecommunications network to support the full needs of a smart grid. Oncor operates a telecommunications network today for monitoring and controlling the power grid. Oncor plans to upgrade the existing networks to handle greater volumes of data more quickly and securely. This action will extend the network to support new distribution automation and metering technology.

“The definition of a smart grid varies from utility to utility, area to area. Oncor believes that a smart grid is end-to-end interactivity. From the moment the power enters the grid to the moment it enters the home or business, technology is managing the flow of electricity, monitoring its progress, checking for fluctuations, measuring its volume, and communicating information to the electric utility and to the consumer,” said Shapard. “That interactivity and communications flow will help the nation save energy and protect the environment just by raising awareness. But the sensitivity of new meter technology and the availability of clean, renewable energy off-peak will be the catalyst for many new products, such as plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles that help the environment and spur job growth.”

Overall, Oncor anticipates stimulus fund investments could create an estimated 1,600 jobs in 2010, based on data from the Council of Economic Advisers.