Update on ARRA projects

by Kristen Wright, senior editor

Three and a half years after President Barack Obama announced the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) smart grid projects, where do the projects stand?

The two largest of the ARRA initiatives are the Smart Grid Investment Grants (SGIGs) and the Smart Grid Demonstration Projects. ARRA also provides $100 million for work force training, and there is a standards interoperability and cybersecurity program, as well.

ARRA stipulated that the $3.4 billion in SGIGs would be matched by industry funding for a total public-private investment worth some $8 billion. Since then, the Department of Energy (DOE) used a merit”based, competitive process to select and fund 99 projects that are deploying smart grid technologies and systems across the power grid from transmission systems to end”use customers in every state but Alaska, plus Washington, D.C., the Virgin Islands and Guam.

The SGIG projects launched in 2010 and are expected to complete equipment installations by 2014. Data analysis and reporting will be complete in 2015.

Joseph Paladino, a senior advisor at the DOE, gave a status update of the SGIG projects during the fourth annual Electric Light & Power Executive Conference in January. He said that as of September, the electric transmission systems projects, which include networked phasor measurement units (PMUs), line monitors and communication networks, had installed 541 of 800 networked PMUs–more than four times the number of networked PMUs that were installed in the U.S. before the SGIGs.

For the same period, electric distribution systems projects, which include automated sensors and controls for switches, capacitors and transformers, had installed 6,544 of some 7,500 automated switches and 10,336 of some 18,500 automated capacitors, Paladino said.

And advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) projects, which include smart meters, communications systems and meter data management systems, and customer systems projects, which include in-home displays (IHDs), programmable communicating thermostats (PCTs), Web portals and time-based rate programs, had installed 12 million of 15.5 million residential and commercial smart meters, which will more than double the number of smart meters installed before the program.

Among the SGIG projects, 62 are offering pricing and customer systems, mostly at pilot scales.

Of those, 56 are offering Web portals, and 46 are offering direct load control, PCTs and or IHDs; and 32 are offering pricing such as time of use, critical-peak pricing, critical-peak rebate or variable-peak pricing.

Sixty-three SGIG projects that are deploying AMI expect to see operational efficiency improvements derived from smart meter features such as remote meter reading, remote service connections and disconnections, tamper detection and notification, outage detection and notification, and voltage and power-quality monitoring, Paladino said.

Results observed in 15 projects are linked to automation of metering service tasks, as well as reductions in labor hours and trucks rolls, he said. Those include a 17 to 77 percent reduction in meter operations cost and a 12 to 59 percent reduction in vehicle miles.

In addition, 48 SGIG projects are applying distribution automation technologies to improve reliability. Forty-two are deploying automated feeder switches that enable fault location, isolation and service restoration functions. Twenty-six projects are applying distribution management systems. Thirty-six are implementing AMI outage notification. And 22 are deploying equipment health sensors, he said.

Twenty-five SGIG projects are deploying advanced VVD, Paladino said. Of those, 11 are applying conservation voltage reduction (CVR) to reduce peak load. He said one utility had up to a 200-MW reduction over hundreds of circuits. Seven projects are using CVR to reduce energy consumption. And there is a multitude of equipment integration and control schemes, of which many projects are applying distributed management systems and some are using smart meter data.

Investments in synchorphasor technology are being made by 12 projects, including the Midwest Independent System Operator (MISO), Paladino said. MISO installed 161 synchrophasor measurement devices that are operating along the 50,000-mile interconnected system in MISO’s 11-state region, he said.

More information about ARRA smart grid projects may be found at http://smartgrid.gov.

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The Clarion Energy Content Team is made up of editors from various publications, including POWERGRID International, Power Engineering, Renewable Energy World, Hydro Review, Smart Energy International, and Power Engineering International. Contact the content lead for this publication at Jennifer.Runyon@ClarionEvents.com.

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