The federal government is partnering with private industry to modernize the electrical grid.
President Obama announced in October that the federal government would distribute $3.4 billion in grants to modernize the electrical grid and fund the expansion of so-called smart grid projects. The money comes from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, previously known as the stimulus bill. The government says private industry will add $4.7 billion to the grants, bringing the total investment to $8 billion.
The funding has two major goals: to upgrade the nation's aging electrical grid to be more efficient and reliable, and to promote the development of renewable energy sources, especially wind and solar.
Grid modernization includes the installation of devices to improve electricity management and reduce the loss of electricity as it travels from the generation source to the consumer. For example, the government plans to fund the installation of 850 phasor measurement units, which are sensors that improve grid monitoring so that operators can detect and respond to minor problems before they accelerate to an outage or blackout. Other devices to be funded include more than 200,000 new transformers and nearly 700 automated substations.
Smart meters will play a major role in grid modernization, in part because utilities can provide real-time usage and pricing information to customers, who can choose to run appliances when rates are lowest. A shift in consumption patterns will reduce peak demands on energy providers, which means they don't have to build additional power plants. One billion dollars is allocated to expand deployment of smart meters at homes and businesses across the country. For instance, Florida Power & Light has received $200 million to install 2.5 million smart meters.
The government estimates that a smart grid infrastructure will reduce electricity consumption 4% over the next 20 years, producing a savings of $20.4 billion.
The government also is developing protocols and standards to promote interoperability among smart grid devices and services. That task falls to the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
NIST released a draft of its standards framework in September. It provides a high-level reference model of a smart grid, identifies existing standards that will support the development of such a grid, and calls out critical areas where new standards must be developed. Efforts covered include wide area situational awareness (monitoring the grid across large geographic areas); demand response (giving users incentives to reduce consumption during peak demand); electric storage (developing new storage capabilities); and cybersecurity (protecting grid communications systems).
The draft is available for public comment. A final version is expected by the end of this year.
Time to Reconsider Enterprise Email StrategyCost, time, and risk. It's the demand trifecta vying for the attention of both technology professionals and attorneys charged with balancing the expectations of their clients and business units with the hard reality of the current financial and regulatory climate. Sometimes, organizations assume high levels of risk as a result of their inability to meet the costs involved in data protection. In other instances, it's time that's of the essence, as with a data breach.
5 Top Federal Initiatives For 2015As InformationWeek Government readers were busy firming up their fiscal year 2015 budgets, we asked them to rate more than 30 IT initiatives in terms of importance and current leadership focus. No surprise, among more than 30 options, security is No. 1. After that, things get less predictable.
Top IT Trends to Watch in Financial ServicesIT pros at banks, investment houses, insurance companies, and other financial services organizations are focused on a range of issues, from peer-to-peer lending to cybersecurity to performance, agility, and compliance. It all matters.
Join us for a roundup of the top stories on InformationWeek.com for the week of September 18, 2016. We'll be talking with the InformationWeek.com editors and correspondents who brought you the top stories of the week to get the "story behind the story."