The US Department of Energy, under the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA), established a $3.4 billion grant pool to accelerate the adoption of Smart Grid technologies throughout the country while creating jobs to stimulate the economic recovery.
In October of 2009, Vermont’s electric utilities were awarded approximately $69 M in ARRA funds to deploy Smart Grid technology. The statewide grant application, known as eEnergy Vermont, was filed by Vermont Transco, on behalf of Vermont’s twenty distribution utilities, with the support of the Department of Public Service, Efficiency Vermont, the Office of Economic Stimulus and Recovery as well as Vermont’s Congressional Delegation. The grant will pay up to half the cost of $138 million in improvements across Vermont. The project will move the state toward development of a statewide Smart Grid, using digital technology to convert the electric infrastructure from a one-way communication system (conveying electricity to consumers) to a two-way system able to relay information about usage, voltage, existing or potential outages, equipment performance, and other matters back the utilities. The system will utilize the statewide fiber optic backbone being built as a part of electric reliability improvements. The Smart Grid system will allow utilities to resolve outages more quickly, or potentially avoid them; improve power quality (correcting voltage irregularities); and provide consumers data about their energy use patterns.
Smart Grid has the potential to increase energy efficiency and thereby reduce environmental impacts energy consumption and empower consumers to manage their energy choices.
Specific eEnergy Vermont goals are to:
- Deploy smart meters to over 90% of Vermont premises.
Pilot the use of in-home devices for communicating and controlling consumer energy patterns.
- Study dynamic rate structures enabled by smart meter technology.
- Deploy automated controls to the grid and substations.
Because of a high level of cooperative effort among Vermont’s utilities and public entities, Vermont has an opportunity to build a statewide Smart Grid that can serve as a model for the rest of the country. This infrastructure will be critical to Vermont’s ability to compete in the global economy and to do our part in addressing the challenges of energy conservation and efficiency.