Under the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA), $3.4 billion in grant awards have been given out to fund a range of technologies that will spur the United States’ energy grid modernization. Announced by President Barack Florida Power and Light’s DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center, it is the largest single energy grid modernization investment in U.S. history. The awards also are the largest group of ARRA awards ever made in a single day.
The 3.4 billion in grant awards will be matched by industry funding for a total public-private investment worth more than $8 billion. One hundred private companies, utilities, manufacturers, cities, and other partners received the grant awards. (Breakdowns of all of the awards by state are here in map form and chart form).
Analysis by the Electric Power Research Institute estimates that the implementation of smart grid technologies could reduce electricity use by more than 4 percent by 2030. Among the investments supported by the grants are:
- $1 billion toward empowering consumers to reduce their utility bills by creating the infrastructure to expand access to smart meters and systems so that consumers can access dynamic pricing information and the ability to program smart appliances and equipment to run when rates are lowest.
- $400 million for several grid modernization projects that will significantly reduce the amount of power that is wasted from the time it is produced at a power plant to the time it gets to a consumer’s house. Award initiatives include deploying digital monitoring devices and increasing grid automation.
- $2 billion to integrating and crosscutting different smart components of a smart grid. These components include smart meters, smart thermostats and appliances, synchrophasors, automated substations, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, and renewable energy sources.
- $25 million to building a smart grid manufacturing industry, expanding the base of companies that can produce smart meters, smart appliances, synchrophasers, smart transformers, and other smart grid components.
The estimated payoff of these investments include green job creation; installation of more than 850 sensors, called phasor measurement units, that would allow grid operators to better monitor the U.S. electric grid; installation of more than 200,000 smart transformers; installation of nearly 700 automated substations; installation of more than 1 million in-house displays, 170,000 smart thermostats, and 175,000 other load control devices; and reductions in peak electricity demand.