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Biden Details Smart Grid Funding — Let the Feedback Begin

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You knew smart grid technology made off with billions of dollars under the stimulus package. But who’s getting it and how? Drum roll, please: The Obama administration laid out details yesterday on how it plans to distribute nearly $4 billion for smart grid technology under new Department of Energy initiatives. Vice President Joe Biden outlined a draft plan to provide $3.4 billion in grants for technology development and another $615 million for demo projects of smart grid storage, monitoring and technology. The plans now go into a 20-day comment period before being finalized — so now’s your chance to throw in 2 cents. Here’s the current breakdown:

  • The $3.4 billion program will provide between $500,000 to $20 million in grants for deploying smart grid technology, plus between $100,000 to $5 million for deploying grid monitoring devices. Electric utilities, grid operators, appliance manufacturers, corporations and other applicants planning to invest in smart grid technologies can qualify for matching grants worth up to half of the investment.
  • The $615 million demo program is open to regional smart grid projects and utility-scale energy storage demos (including ultracapacitor, flywheel and advanced battery technologies), as well as the installation and networking of grid-monitoring technology.

As we noted earlier this year, lawmakers left the process for doling out most stimulus funds fairly open in an effort to limit fights over earmarks in the $787 billion package. So lawmakers left general initiatives open to interpretation by agencies like the DOE. Yesterday’s announcement covers the most detailed plan so far for stimulus-funded smart grid initiatives.

Biden announced the programs at an event in Jefferson City, Mo., yesterday, where the administration also announced plans to have industry leaders meet early next month in Washington, D.C., with DOE chief Steven Chu and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke to start developing industry-wide standards (critical to smart grid deployment, as we’ve noted) and commit to a deadline for them to go into effect. If you have another 2 cents, you can toss them in there.