More power to you
Local governments are using grants from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to keep power flowing in their communities. Several cities have received funding to research and develop new technology for the nation’s electrical grid, and others will receive grants to create plans for assuring the grid’s stability.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) included about $4.5 billion in energy grants for public and private utilities to develop new “smart grid” technology. “These are investments to increase the reliability and efficiency of the electrical system,” says DOE spokesperson Jen Stutsman.
Fort Collins, Colo., received $4.8 million in ARRA money in July for research and demonstration of peak load reduction on distribution feeders using distributed energy resources, such as solar power arrays. The city also has received $15.7 million to install “smart meters,” which allow a two-way information exchange between residents’ power meters and computers at the distribution center that include specific data on power use. Both programs are aimed at improving operational efficiency and providing better service, says the city’s Light and Power Manager Steve Catanach. “We will provide [residents] with better services if we know what’s happening on the system and can provide them with more granular data,” he says.
In mid-February, DOE was expecting to soon announce recipients of another set of between $8 million and $10 million in grants specifically for local governments to create energy assurance plans, according to Stutsman. “These awards will allow local governments to hire and train staff to expand their capabilities, to learn more about what is on the electrical grid and how electricity flows through the transmission and distribution system, to identify and assess different energy supply disruption scenarios and to model them, and to train personnel on the energy infrastructure and supply systems so, in case of an emergency, you have the personnel [who] know how to recover and restore power quickly,” Stutsman says.
The Ingredients for a ‘Smart Grid’
According to the Department of Energy, building a smart grid would involve:
- Advanced conductors made from new composite materials
- Advanced electric storage systems such as flow batteries
- Distributed intelligence and smart controls
- Distributed energy resources, including on-site generation and demand management
Source: Department of Energy, “Grid 2030: A National Vision for Electricity’s Second 100 Years,” July 2003.
View more American Recovery and Reinvestment Act stories.