DOE picks Westar Energy smart grid application

Topeka, Kan., October 28, 2009 — The U.S. Department of Energy selected Westar for award negotiations for funding under the Smart Grid Investment Grant program.

Westar and DOE will now determine what funding, based on the result of negotiations, the company is eligible for under the terms of the program.

Westar applied to DOE on August 5 for the maximum 50 percent program match for its $39.3 million smart grid project. The selection notice indicates Westar will be eligible for slightly more than $19 million.

Westar’s selection comes following a competitive review process for a share of the nearly $3.4 billion made available to utilities under the program.

DOE’s notification to Westar explained that the agency will provide questions and comments on the application to define the areas that need clarification to complete the award.

When the review is complete, the DOE will inform Westar of the final amount of the award. This process is expected to take up to 90 days to complete.

If approved for funding, Westar could move forward with development of a smart grid concept town in Lawrence, Kansas. Called SmartStar Lawrence, the project will include installation of about 48,000 smart meters.

The project is estimated to cost about $39.3 million. Once underway, it should take between 24 and 36 months to implement.

Smart grid technology is a state-of-the-art approach to managing electricity systems. In the event of a power outage, for example, Westar will more easily determine the cause and restore power more quickly.

Customers with smart meters and internet access will be able to daily monitor how much electricity they use and how much it costs. DOE funding would allow Westar to implement the computer infrastructure necessary to eventually support smart meters throughout the company’s entire service territory.

Westar provides electric service to about 684,000 customers in Kansas. The utility has about 6,800 MW of electric generation capacity and operates and coordinates more than 35,000 miles of electric distribution and transmission lines.

Previous articleGC China Turbine agrees to wind turbine research program
Next articleCon Edison to receive $136 million in smart grid stimulus funding

No posts to display