Smart Grid Grants: Like Cash for Clunkers, DOE is Oversubscribed

August 11, 2009 at 4:23 pm

President Obama signed the Stimulus Bill into law six months ago, providing for $3.4 billion dollars of federal matching funds for smart grid investments.  Last week, utilities responded in droves to the Department of Energy’s first application deadline, submitting – at last count – over $4 billion dollars in requests.  eMeter has tracked all of the public announcements, identifying 48 specific applications.  And because utilities must provide at least 50% of the funding, these projects have a total value of over $10 billion.

The vast majority of applications propose minor or major implementations of AMI systems.  They would cover several million customers throughout the U.S. and range from major urban utilities to municipals and rural cooperatives.  When funded, these projects will end the short-term market freeze on AMI projects that came about this year from utilities focusing on their grant applications.  The projects will dramatically increase the size and scope of AMI projects nationwide.  Also, importantly, the projects will dramatically increase the provision of AMI data to consumers as well as smart/dynamic pricing, because both elements are DOE funding requirements.

We expect DOE, for the most part, to make its funding decisions this fall and to begin disbursing funds at the beginning of next year.  There are two more application deadlines, so some of the funds will be reserved for those; any existing applications not funded up front will automatically be considered in the subsequent waves.

Like consumers getting paid for turning in their old gas guzzlers, utilities know a good deal when they see one.

Chris King

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Entry filed under: Energy Efficiency, Smart Grid, Stimulus Package.

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