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# U.S. Government Outlines Funding For Smart Grid Initiatives

April 21, 2009 by Jeff Shepard

The Department of Energy announced its plans to develop a smart, strong and secure electrical grid, which will create new jobs and help deliver reliable power more effectively with less impact on the environment to customers across the nation. As part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the U.S. government hasa outlined plans 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.

"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 Joseph 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."

Government officials also revealed plans for a Smart Grid meeting in Washington, D.C., which will take place in early May, and will bring together leaders from key stakeholders’ organizations, largely from private industry, to begin a critical discussion about developing industry-wide standards that will enable the Smart Grid to become a reality. Additionally, industry leaders at the meeting will be expected to pledge to harmonize industry standards critical to developing the smart grid, commit to a timetable to reach a standards agreement and abide by the standards devised.

The meeting will provide a forum for industry leaders to move toward an industry standards agreement critical to developing the Smart Grid. Additional meetings of industry staff on May 19-20 are planned to make further progress on a standards agreement.

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.

The DOE 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. Together these efforts will help implement technologies aimed at transforming how electricity providers operate their systems, offer options for increased energy storage and accelerate the integration of renewable energy sources like wind and solar power with the electrical grid.

The 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.

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