Department of Energy Sets Funding Criteria for Smart Grid Applicants

The Department of Energy on Thursday published eligibility criteria for applicants of “smart grid” funding, with nearly $4 billion available in grants to support upgrading the electricity grid.

The guidelines, released by the DOE’s Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, included instructions on who is eligible for funding, how the applicant may use the funds, timelines for funded projects, and functions the projects must be able to perform.  Approximately $3.3 billion of the total is to be devoted to the Smart Grid Investment Grant Program; and $615 million for demonstration projects.

In the announcement issued on Thursday, the department said that eligible applicants should include individual entities or teams of entities including electric power companies, government agencies, universities and colleges, electricity consumers, and private companies. 

The grants are for the development, storage, and transmission of digital information relevant to device, grid, or utility operations; sensing and localizing disruptions or changes in power flows on the grid and communicating such information instantaneously and automatically for purposes of enabling automatic protective responses; and dealing effectively with system security threats.

Any application or device must have the ability to respond to such signals, measurements, or communications automatically; use digital information to operate functionalities on the electric utility grids that were previously electro-mechanical or manual; and use digital controls to manage and modify electricity demand, enable congestion management, assist in voltage control, provide operating reserves, and provide frequency regulation.

Eligible investments for SGIG funds may include internal devices that allow appliances covered for purposes of establishing energy conservation standards to engage in smart grid functions and installation of devices or modification of electricity-using equipment to engage in smart grid functions; monitoring and communications devices to enable smart grid functions in transmission and distribution equipment; installation of metering devices, sensors, control devices, etc., to electric utility systems, retail distributors or marketers of electricity that are capable of engaging in smart grid functions; software that enables devices or computers to engage in smart grid functions; equipment that allows smart grid functions to operate and be combined or coordinated among multiple electric utilities and between that region and other regions; enabling distributed electricity generators to be monitored, controlled, or otherwise integrated into grid operations and electricity flows on the grid utilizing smart grid functions as well as distributed electricity generators owned and operated by persons other than electric utilities; and devices that allow electric or hybrid-electric vehicles to engage in smart grid functions.

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