WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded $47 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds to eight ongoing smart grid demonstration projects. The $47 million investment will add to the $17 million in funds DOE had awarded these eight projects in 2008, thereby accelerating the timelines for the projects.

Most of the projects relate to technologies to help transmission and distribution systems operate better, but a few are directly related to clean energy. For example, the city of Fort Collins, Colo., will research, develop, and demonstrate a coordinated and integrated system of mixed clean energy technologies and distributed energy resources, allowing the city to reduce its peak electrical demand by at least 15 percent. Meanwhile, the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) in Chicago will focus on implementing distributed energy resources and creating demand-responsive microgrids, which are small power networks that can operate independently of the utility power grid. In addition, the University of Hawaii will explore the management of its electrical distribution system to better accommodate wind power.

DOE also released its first Smart Grid System Report, which examines smart grid deployments nationwide. The findings show that while many smart grid capabilities are just beginning to emerge, the adoption of various technologies - such as smart metering, automated substation controls, and distributed generation - is growing significantly. The report also notes that smart grid capabilities are socially transformational. As with the Internet or cell phone communications, smart grid technologies have the potential to dramatically change how we experience electricity in the country, but improvements in physical and cyber security and information privacy will require consumers, manufacturers, and utilities to closely follow a range of best practices for the smart grid.

For the full 84-page report, go to www.oe.energy.gov/DocumentsandMedia/SGSRMain_090707_lowres.pdf.

Publication date:08/03/2009