Smart Grid's $8 Billion Down Payment - InformationWeek
05:45 PM
Connect Directly

Smart Grid's $8 Billion Down Payment

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.

Continue to the sidebar:
Atmos Energy Makes Use Of Wikis And More

Go to the main story:
Smart Meter Made

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
2017 State of IT Report
2017 State of IT Report
In today's technology-driven world, "innovation" has become a basic expectation. IT leaders are tasked with making technical magic, improving customer experience, and boosting the bottom line -- yet often without any increase to the IT budget. How are organizations striking the balance between new initiatives and cost control? Download our report to learn about the biggest challenges and how savvy IT executives are overcoming them.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
Top IT Trends for 2018
As we enter a new year of technology planning, find out about the hot technologies organizations are using to advance their businesses and where the experts say IT is heading.
Twitter Feed
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Flash Poll