Real-world projects show tangible returns.
Alyssa Danigelis is a Fortnightly contributor and technology writer who blogs for Discovery News.
Much is riding on successful smart-grid deployments. Last fall, the Department of Energy set aside $11 billion for smart-grid creation. On top of that, many utilities are investing millions of their own money in grid improvements within their service areas. The expensive question remains: Will these investments pay off? Lacking a standard path for smart-grid development, utilities nationwide are venturing into unknown territory, putting their smart-grid business cases to the test.
AEP’s gridSMART Ohio Project: American Electric Power (AEP)
• 5.2 million customers
• $14.4 billion revenue (2008)
• Service areas in Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia
• Approx. 39,000-MW generating capacity
• Coverage: 110,000 customers
• Cost: $150 million. The Department of Energy awarded $75 million and the rest is coming through a combination of monies subject to regulatory approval and in-kind donations from vendors that want to participate.