Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced at an event in Columbus, Ohio, that the Department of Energy (DOE) is awarding $620 million for projects around the country to demonstrate advanced smart grid technologies and integrated systems that will help build a smarter, more efficient and more resilient electrical grid. These 32 demonstration projects, which include large-scale energy storage, smart meters, distribution and transmission system monitoring devices, and a range of other smart technologies, will act as models for deploying integrated smart grid systems on a broader scale. This funding is from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and will be leveraged with $1 billion in funds from the private sector to support more than $1.6 billion in total smart grid projects nationally.

“These demonstration projects will further our knowledge and understanding of what works best and delivers the best results for the smart grid, setting the course for a modern grid that is critical to achieving our energy goals,” Chu said. “This funding will be used to show how smart grid technologies can be applied to whole systems to promote energy savings for consumers, increase energy efficiency and foster the growth of renewable-energy sources.”

These efforts will provide invaluable data on the benefits and cost-effectiveness of the smart grid, including energy and cost savings. An analysis by the Electric Power Research Institute estimates that implementing smart grid technologies could reduce electricity use by more than 4 percent by 2030. That would mean a savings of $20.4 billion for businesses and consumers around the country and $700 million for Ohio alone.

The demonstration projects also will help verify the technological and business viability of new smart technologies and show how fully integrated smart grid systems can be readily adapted and replicated around the country. Applicants say this investment will create thousands of new job opportunities that will include manufacturing workers, engineers, electricians, equipment installers, IT system designers, cybersecurity specialists, and business and power system analysts.