U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu yesterday announced delivery of more than $47 million in funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for eight projects to further smart grid demonstration projects in seven states. Secretary Chu also announced $10.5 million in Recovery Act funding available for local governments to develop emergency preparedness plans for their electrical systems. Together, these efforts will help accelerate the development and implementation of a modernized and secure electrical grid, a critical piece in delivering renewable energy to American consumers and ensuring an effective, reliable and efficient electricity system across the country.

“Modernizing our electrical grid to make it stronger, smarter, more efficient and more secure is a crucial step in expanding renewable energy and creating jobs," said Secretary Chu. “These investments will help lay the foundation for American leadership in the clean energy economy.”

The $47 million in Recovery Act awards announced will support existing projects that are advancing demonstration-scale smart grid technologies which will play an important role in modernizing the country’s electricity grid. This investment will add to the $17 million in funds the Department had awarded these projects in 2008 following a competitive award process. By accelerating the completion timelines for each of the projects, the Recovery Act funds will help modernize the electric grid, allowing for greater integration of renewable energy sources while increasing the reliability, efficiency and security of the nation’s electricity transmission and distribution system. Breakdown of projects, award amounts and locations appears below.

The $10.5 million to increase the nation’s energy security is available for local governments to apply for competitive energy assurance grants ranging between $60,000 and $300,000. The funding will help cities and counties create jobs, while developing strong emergency response plans that they can rely on during energy emergencies and supply disruptions, which can have devastating economic, health and safety impacts on local individuals and businesses. This funding adds to the nearly $40 million previously announced for state-level energy assurance planning.

DOE Smart Grid Report Shows Significant Growth of Technologies

In addition, Secretary Chu has emphasized that public education and awareness are key components of the Department of Energy’s grid modernization efforts. As part of its efforts to inform Congress, energy stakeholders, and the public about smart grid efforts, the Department of Energy today released the first Smart Grid System Report, which examines the status of smart grid deployments nationwide and any regulatory or government barriers to continued deployment. The report finds that while many smart grid capabilities are just beginning to emerge, the adoption of various technologies – such as smart metering, automated substation controls and distributed generation – is growing significantly.

The report also notes that smart grid capabilities are socially transformational and that to achieve broader deployment and implementation, we are likely to need larger cultural change. As with the Internet or cell phone communications, smart grid technologies have the potential to dramatically change how we experience electricity in the country, but improvements in physical and cyber security and information privacy will require consumers, manufacturers and utilities to closely follow a range of grid best practices. Read the full Smart Grid System Report.

Finally, Secretary Chu announced today that the Department has begun the development of a Smart Grid Information Clearinghouse. The Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) was selected as the winner of the $1.3 million initiative to develop and maintain the Clearinghouse website, which will be charged with answering questions from the public and distributing information about smart grid initiatives happening nationwide.

RECOVERY ACT AWARDS FOR SMART GRID DEMONSTRATION PROJECTS
Projects are implemented by teams of organizations, including utilities, private companies, universities, governmental groups, etc. The lead organization for each project is listed below.

American Superconductor Corp. – Development and In-Grid Demonstration of a Transmission Voltage SuperLimiter Fault Current Limiter
(Devens, MA) - $4,832,972

  • American Superconductor is developing and demonstrating advanced technology for a fault current limiter, which will restrict power surges through equipment in fault conditions such as a short circuit, maintaining power quality and grid stability.

American Superconductor Corp. – High Temperature Superconductor Transmission Cable System for Installation in the Long Island Power Grid (LIPA 2)
(Devens, MA) - $7,584,120

  • American Superconductor Corporation is also developing the key components required to commercially deploy second-generation, high-temperature superconductor cables that will increase the reliability and efficiency of power delivery cables. The company will also use Recovery Act funding to demonstrate a prototype cable in the Long Island Power Authority power grid.

City of Fort Collins – Research Development and Demonstration of Peak Load Reduction on Distribution Feeders Using Distributed Energy Resources for the City of Fort Collins
(Fort Collins, CO) - $4,841,647

  • The city of Fort Collins, in cooperation with a number of partners in the state, will research, develop and demonstrate a coordinated and integrated system of mixed clean energy technologies and distributed energy resources. This will enable the city to reduce peak load electricity demand by at least 15 percent at distribution feeders and allow for expanded use of renewables.

Consolidated Edison Company of New York – Interoperability of Demand Response Resources Demonstration in New York
(New York City, NY) - $5,631,110

  • Consolidated Edison will develop and demonstrate true interoperability between an energy delivery company and retail electric consumers. By using demand response resources, the project will enhance the reliability of the distribution grid and the efficiency of its operations.

Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) – The Perfect Power Prototype for the Illinois Institute of Technology
(Chicago, IL) - $5,405,583

  • IIT will develop and demonstrate a system that will achieve “perfect power” at the main campus of ITT, which will always meet the needs of the individual end-user. Different end users have different needs, so a perfect power system focuses on flexibility and adaptability that can accommodate every user. The system will focus on implementing distributed resources and creating demand-responsive microgrids to increase reliability and decrease overall energy demand. The project aims to replicate its efforts with other municipality-sized energy systems.

University of Hawaii at Manoa-Hawaii Natural Energy Institute – A Dispatchable Distribution Feeder for Peak Load Reduction and Wind Farming
(Honolulu, HI) - $5,548,585

  • The University of Hawaii will explore the management of distribution system resources for improved service quality and reliability, transmission congestion relief, and grid support functions.

University of Nevada – Las Vegas – Dramatic Residential Demand Reduction in the Desert Southwest
(Las Vegas, NV) - $5,724,709

  • The University of Nevada-Las Vegas will explore technologies to apply distributed generation and detailed energy accounting and control for a large residential development in the southwestern U.S., with the goal of significantly reducing residential electrical demand. This community of green homes will provide a laboratory atmosphere that will be used to apply cost benefit analysis and research various energy-conserving design approaches.

Zenergy Power Inc. – Design, Test & Demonstration of Saturable Reactor High Temperature Superconducting Fault Current Limiters
(San Francisco, CA) - $8,081,973

  • Zenergy Power will design, test, and demonstrate an advanced technology for a fault current limiter for use on the transmission system. The goal of the fault current limiter is the same as the American Superconductor technology – restricting power surges in fault conditions such as a short circuit and maintaining power quality and grid stability – but uses a different type of technology to limit the flow of the current.