Utilities hurry up and wait to apply for grant money.
Andrew Trump is executive consultant with Enspiria Solutions, and formerly led power plant development efforts for Duke Energy North America.
The American Recovery and Restructuring Act (ARRA, or the Recovery Act), signed into law in February, provides $4.5 billion in stimulus funding for programs aimed at “electricity delivery and energy reliability activities to modernize the electric grid.” This funding commitment, and swirl of industry and lawmaker activities since, has helped lift the smart-grid agenda out of the shadows of utility engineering departments and into the public’s broader view. A testament to this is found in CNN’s reporting on March 21, 2009 about the concern over smart-grid cyberse-curity.1 The smart-grid concept has caught on as an issue of national importance.
Many utilities are scrambling to define how their smart-grid projects might qualify for smart-grid demonstration or matching grant funding. The Department of Energy (DOE) published guidance in mid-April for prospective grantees, but a great deal of uncertainty remains about how to develop a meaningful funding opportunity, how to decipher the pros and cons of submitting an application early, and how to reconcile utility smart-grid funding plans with existing utility initiatives. There also is tremendous pressure within DOE to identify funding allocations and priorities, get the grant-making guidance published, start the review of applications, and make awards.