Utilities and companies are so desperate to grab a piece of the soon-to-be announced stimulus funds for smart grid projects that some groups are positioning their proposals like the awards are already a done deal. According to the New York State Smart Grid Consortium, a non-profit made up of New York-based utilities and businesses, if the Department of Energy approves all 31 of the projects that New York utilities and organizations have applied for, it would result in the creation of 3,800 jobs by 2010, and an investment of $1.36 billion.
Mind you, there’s only about $4 billion in smart grid stimulus funds, so New York utilities are looking for more than a quarter of the funds. There’s no way all of those projects will get approved, but some of the bigger proposals include two projects from National Grid that will require a total of $271 million and supposedly create 793 jobs, two projects from NY State Electric & Gas that together will cost $187 million and create 558 jobs, 13 projects for Con Edison/Orange and Rockland that will require $377 million in all and create 570 jobs, plus four projects for Long Island Power Authority that will require a total of $180 million and create 1,095 jobs.
New York state already has some significant smart grid projects and initiatives under way, which could help convince the DOE that stimulus funds spent in New York will be funds well spent. It’s the home of General Electric’s research division as well as IBM, two companies that are leading some of these new smart grid pilot projects. The state already has 27 smart grid projects, says the NYSGC, worth $120 million already in the works. The New York state Department of Public Service also approved a tariff-based funding mechanism in July of this year to help utilities deliver the matching funds from the stimulus package, allowing utilities to collect 50 percent of the costs of project through a surcharge mechanism.
Individual utilities across the U.S. seem to be chomping at the bit to get a piece of the stimulus funds before the winners are even announced. This morning Consumers Energy, a subsidiary of CMS Energy, a utility in Michigan, put out an announcement stating that a project for which it applied for funds “has cleared the first hurdle with the U.S. Department of Energy.” In the competitive space even an incremental step in the application process is being touted as a milestone.
While the smart grid stimulus funds — for which there are over 500 applications — are supposed to be released in early November, we’ve heard some rumors that the funds could be allocated as soon as this month.