Tuesday, October 27, 2009

President Announces $3.4 Billion In Smart Grid Investments

Oct 27: Speaking at Florida Power and Light’s (FPL) DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center, President Barack Obama announced the largest single energy grid modernization investment in U.S. history, funding a broad range of technologies that will spur the nation’s transition to a smarter, stronger, more efficient and reliable electric system. The end result will promote energy-saving choices for consumers, increase efficiency, and foster the growth of renewable energy sources like wind and solar.

The $3.4 billion in grant awards announced are part of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, and will be matched by industry funding for a total public-private investment worth over $8 billion. Applicants state that the projects will create tens of thousands of jobs, and consumers in 49 states will benefit from these investments in a stronger, more reliable grid. DOE indicates in a release that an analysis by the Electric Power Research Institute estimates that the implementation of smart grid technologies could reduce electricity use by more than 4 percent by 2030. That would mean a savings of $20.4 billion for businesses and consumers around the country.

One-hundred private companies, utilities, manufacturers, cities and other partners received the Smart Grid Investment Grant awards. In the coming days, Cabinet Members and Administration officials will fan out to awardee sites across the country to discuss how this investment will create jobs, improve the reliability and efficiency of the electrical grid, and help bring clean energy sources from high-production states to those with less renewable generating capacity. The awards announced represent the largest group of Recovery Act awards ever made in a single day and the largest batch of Recovery Act clean energy grant awards to-date.

According to DOE, the announcements include: Empowering Consumers to Save Energy and Cut Utility Bills -- $1 billion; Making Electricity Distribution and Transmission More Efficient -- $400 million; Integrating and Crosscutting Across Different “Smart” Components of a Smart Grid -- $2 billion; and Building a Smart Grid Manufacturing Industry -- $25 million.

Among other improvements from the investments the funding will: Install more than 850 sensors - called ‘Phasor Measurement Units’ - that will cover 100 percent of the U.S. electric grid and make it possible for grid operators to better monitor grid conditions and prevent minor disturbances in the electrical system from cascading into local or regional power outages or blackouts; Install more than 200,000 smart transformers that will make it possible for power companies to replace units before they fail thus saving money and reducing power outages; Install almost 700 automated substations, representing about 5 percent of the nation’s total that will make it possible for power companies to respond faster and more effectively to restore service when bad weather knocks down power lines or causes electricity disruptions; Install more than 1 million in-home displays, 170,000 smart thermostats, and 175,000 other load control devices to enable consumers to reduce their energy use.

Additionally, DOE indicates the investments will reduce peak electricity demand by more than 1400 MW, which is the equivalent of several larger power plants and can save ratepayers more than $1.5 billion in capital costs and help lower utility bills. Since peak electricity is the most expensive energy -- and requires the use of standby power generation plants – the economic and environmental savings for even a small reduction are significant. In fact, some of the power plants for meeting peak demand operate for only a few hundred hours a year, which means the power they generate can be 5-10 times more expensive than the average price per kilowatt hour paid by most consumers.

Access a release from DOE (
click here). Access the full text of the President's remarks (click here). Access the full listings of the grant awards by category and state (click here); and (click here). Access a map of the awards (click here).

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