By Jeff St. John
The Department of Energy on Tuesday named 100 smart grid projects as winners of $3.4 billion in stimulus grants – and it looks like the smart meter industry is going to be happy.
That's because a lot of that money is going to deploy two-way communicating electricity meters to customers, according to the list of winners DOE published on Tuesday.
Projects that include smart meters make up at least $2.8 billion of the total amount, according to a quick tally of awards. That doesn't include a tally of projects of less than $20 million, which make up three-fourths of the recepients.
Making and installing smart meters involves a lot of jobs, Matt Rogers, the DOE advisor in charge of managing stimulus funding, noted in a Monday press pre-briefing – and boosting job growth was part of the DOE's imperative in spending the stimulus funds (see Smart Grid Gets $3.4B in DOE Stimulus).
The first winners to be announced included Baltimore Gas and Electric and Florida Power & Light, each getting the $200 million maximum amount to speed up multi-million smart meter deployments (see A Million Smart Meters For Miami).
Funded projects are expected to install 1.8 million smart meters over the coming three years, bringing them to about 13 percent of the nation's homes, Rogers noted Monday.
That's a lot of meters from the likes of Itron, Landis+Gyr, Sensus, Elster and General Electric, as well as the host of networking, software and integration partners involved in installing them in the field.
But grant-winning projects will also deliver 200,000 advanced transformers, 700 automated substation systems and 850 transmission grid sensors to help manage the delivery of power, Rogers said.
As for managing home energy use, grant-funded projects would deploy one million in-home energy displays, 175,000 load management devices and 170,000 smart thermostats, he said.
All told, the projects would lead to $8.1 billion in public and private investment into the smart grid sector, Rogers said. That's welcome news for smart grid companies that have seen a drop-off in business over the last six months, as utilities held off on signing contracts until they could know if DOE money was coming (see Green Light post).
"This will unleash a lot of projects that have been held up," Katherine Hamilton, president of the GridWise Alliance trade group, said Tuesday. The alliance issued a statement calling for state utility commissions to support projects that didn't get funded.
While smart meters did figure prominently in the list of grant-winning projects, Hamilton noted that many of those projects also seek to integrate distribution, transmission, generation and customer information and control systems – an "integrative approach" that she said she supports.
A number of projects also will include so-called variable pricing pilot programs, testing out the idea of charging customers higher prices at peak demand times, usually in exchange for extra-cheap off-peak power.
Projects in Arizona, Connecticut, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, Nevada, Oklahoma, and Wyoming, as well as Washington D.C., propose to try out such programs, which are already being mandated at some scale for utilities in California (see PG&E Asks Cisco to Help Make 75K Businesses Energy Wise).
Projects that weren't picked won't have a second chance. Plans to hold multiple rounds of funding for the $3.4 billion program were canceled, after applications for the smart grid investment grant program came in at about five times the amount available, Roger said.
Still, a separate $615 million pool for demonstration projects hasn't been allocated yet, which leaves another set of applications awaiting word (see DOE Issues Rules for $3.9B in Smart Grid Stimulus Grants).
Utilities made up almost all the winners of the larger, $3.4 billion round, with a few noteworthy exceptions.
Among them, Honeywell Corp. won $11.4 million to deploy peak pricing control systems in Danvers, Mass., and Whirlpool Corp won $19.3 million to accelerate development of its line of smart appliances (see Whirlpool Plans 1M Smart Dryers by 2011).
And Idaho-based M2M Communications won $2.2 million to expand to California's Central Valley a system for remote-controlling water pumps and farm irrigation systems that it has deployed in Idaho, Colorado and other western states (see M2M Brings Demand Response to Farmers).
Of course, smart grid companies teamed up with utilities on proposed projects will be poring through the list of winners to see which projects got the green light.
Here's a rundown of some of the larger projects to win grants, along with a brief description of what the winning utility intends to do with the money:
- Southern Co. (NYSE:SO), $164.5 million for smart meters, distribution and transmission line automation, and smart power substations (see Green Light post).
- Salt River Project, $56.9 million for a 550,000 smart meter deployment (see story).
- Sacramento Municipal Utility District, $127.5 million for a "comprehensive regional smart grid system" that includes 600,000 smart meters.
- San Diego Gas & Electric (NYSE:SRE), $28.1 million for its GridComm project to deploy a variety of communications networks across its service territory (see Green Light post).
- Burbank Water and Power and the City of Glendale Water and Power, each winning $20 million for smart grid deployments including 51,000 and 84,000 smart meters, respectively.
- City of Fort Collins (Colo.) Utilities, $18.1 million for 79,000 smart meters and in-home energy controls.
- Pepco (NYSE:POM), $104.8 million to speed up deployment of 570,000 smart meters in Maryland. The utility also landed $44.8 million for 280,000 smart meters in Washington, D.C. (see story).
- Idaho Power Company, $47 million for distribution automation and smart meters for all 470,000 customers.
- Central Maine Power Co., $95.9 million for a 650,000 smart meter deployment.
- Detroit Edison Co., $83.8 million to deploy 660,000 smart meters.
- South Mississippi Electric Power Association, $30.6 million for a 240,000 smart meter deployment, as well as grid monitoring equipment.
- Duke Energy (NYSE:DUK), $200 million for its "comprehensive grid modernization" plans, which include lots of distribution automation as well as its plans to install 1.4 million smart meters, some attached to home energy monitoring systems (see story).
- Raleigh, N.C.-based Progress Energy Service Co. (PGN), $200 million for a "virtual power plant" project and to speed up its 160,000 smart meter deployment.
- Las Vegas-based NV Energy (NYSE:NVE), $138 million for a smart grid rollout including 1.3 million smart meters, distribution automation, in-home energy monitoring and other technologies.
- Consolidated Edison Co. (NYSE:ED) of New York, $136.2 million for a 40,000 smart meter deployment, in-home energy controls, distribution automation and a control network for it all (see Green Light post).
- Akron, Ohio-based FirstEnergy Service Co. (NYSE:FE), $57.5 million for a grid modernization project including smart meters and distribution automation.
- Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co., $130 million for a 771,000 smart meter deployment.
- PECO Energy Co., $200 million for 600,000 smart meters, seven intelligent substations and an overlying communications network.
- Electric Power Board of Chattanooga (Tenn.), $111.6 million for 170,000 smart meters and extending fiber optic networks throughout its service territory – an expensive and rare, but very robust, communications backbone.
- CenterPoint Energy (NYSE:CNP), $200 million to accelerate its deployment of 2.2 million smart meters, as well as 550 grid sensors and automated switches to help it deal with future hurricanes.
- Vermont Transco, $68.9 million to deploy 300,000 smart meters and distribution and transmission automation systems.
On the transmission side, a consortium of western utilities led by the Western Electricity Coordinating Council, $53.9 million to help it install so-called "phasor measurement units" to better monitor conditions on its transmission grid (see Green Light post).
Duke Energy also won a $3.9 million grant for phasor measurement. ISO New England won $3.7 million and the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO) won $37.4 million for similar projects.
And for those who heard Rogers promise that the DOE would fund projects in 49 out of 50 states, it appears that Alaska was the odd state out. But Hamilton of the GridWise Alliance noted that she didn't believe any projects in the state applied for funds.