The United States Department of Energy (DOE) and the electricity industry have made significant investments in approximately 100 Smart Grid Investment Grant (SGIG) projects since the program’s inception in 2009. The SGIG program is a cost-shared initiative intended to accelerate the development of a smarter and more efficient electric grid through the use of Smart Grid technologies. ARRA provided $3.4 billion toward to the total $7.9 billion invested in the program. The federal funds are matched on a one-to-one basis (at a minimum) with private sector resources.
For decades, utility companies have relied on a workforce to visit homes and businesses to read meters, check for broken equipment, and measure voltage. Smart Grid technology gathers data from sensors in the field and communicates the information to the utility’s operations center. The computerization presents significant costs savings to businesses and consumers.
A recent Smart Grid Progress Report
issued by DOE indicates that the majority of the SGIG projects are expected to complete equipment installations in 2013. More than three-quarters of SGIG projects have reported completing 70 percent of their project’s overall tasks. As of October, 2013, 14.2 million smart meters have been installed accounting for 92 percent of the program’s goal of 15.5 million installations at program completion.
The report also called attention to several accomplishments of the SGIG program:
- Newly installed technology has allowed grid operators to see and correct for disturbances before they become serious issues.
- Automated feeder switches and supporting sensors, communications equipment, and control systems have resulted in shorter and less frequent outages, in turn helping eliminate the added costs of an outage.
- Advancements in voltage controls have led to increased energy savings.
- Installation of smart meters has helped eliminate the costs of meter reading with an initial savings ranging from 13 to 77 percent.
Smart meters are a key element that allow all of the emerging Smart Grid technologies to function together. To see quarterly reports on installations and costs as the SGIG program nears project completion, visit www.smartgrid.gov