The Dept of Energy is setting up a $4 billion program to develop the smart grid. As part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, vice president Biden announced the program to distribute more than $3.3 billion in smart grid technology development grants and an additional $615 million for smart grid storage, monitoring and technology viability.
This is important to those advocating plug-in electric vehicles (PHEVs). With smart grid technology, consumers can recharge their car overnight at home when rates are lower, drive to work and plug back in. As the day progresses, the electric grid can take back some of the electricity stored in the battery, for which the owner would be paid for at the higher rates. The owner can then drive back home and plug back in.
This is also a move strongly advocated for by GM lately. They want the country to be plug-in ready as soon as possible, given their target date for production of the Chevy Volt is in 2010.
“We need an upgraded electrical grid to take full advantage of the vast renewable resources in this country – to take the wind from the Midwest and the sun from the Southwest and power areas across the country,” said Vice President Biden. “By investing in updating the grid now, we will lower utility bills for American families and businesses, lessen our dependence on foreign oil and create good jobs that will drive our economic recovery – a strong return on our investment.”
Under the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, the Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is responsible for assisting with the development of a framework for standards associated with Smart Grid systems and devices.
As part of Vice President Biden's announcement, the Department of Energy released a Notice of Intent (NOI) for the DOE Smart Grid Investment Grant Program, as well as a draft Funding Opportunity Announcement from the Department for a smart grid regional demonstration initiative.
These investments will help implement the necessary digital upgrades in the home and on the electric grid, enabling it to be more efficient, resilient, and secure. They will also help make the grid capable to effectively integrate renewable supplies, plug in electric and hybrid vehicles, and energy management technologies, ultimately reducing energy infrastructure requirements and our dependence on foreign oil.
$3.375 billion for Smart Grid Investment Grant Program
DOE’s Smart Grid Investment Grant Program will provide grants ranging from $500,000 to $20 million for smart grid technology deployments. It will also provide grants of $100,000 to $5 million for the deployment of grid monitoring devices. This program provides matching grants of up to 50 percent for investments planned by electric utilities and other entities to deploy smart grid technologies. The program will use a competitive, merit-based process to select qualified projects to receive funding.
Eligible applicants include, but are not limited to, electric utilities, companies that distribute or sell electricity, organizations that coordinate or control grid operations, appliance and equipment manufacturers, and firms that wish to install smart grid technology. There will be a 20-day public comment period on the Notice of Intent; the Department will use feedback to finalize the grant program structure and subsequent solicitation.
$615 million for Smart Grid Demonstration Projects
The draft Funding Opportunity Announcement is for smart grid demonstrations in three areas:
- Smart Grid Regional Demonstrations will quantify smart grid costs and benefits, verify technology viability, and examine new business models.
- Utility-Scale Energy Storage Demonstrations can include technologies such as advanced battery systems, ultra-capacitors, flywheels, and compressed air energy systems, and applications such as wind and photovoltaic integration and grid congestion relief.
- Grid Monitoring Demonstrations will support the installation and networking of multiple high-resolution, time-synchronized grid monitoring devices, called phasor measurement units, that allow transmission system operators to see, and therefore influence, electric flows in real-time.