DOE to invest $220M in upgrades

Source: Christa Marshall, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, January 15, 2016

The Department of Energy released a new multiyear plan to modernize the electric grid in conjunction with up to $220 million in planned investments.

Speaking at a utility control center in Miami, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said the financial awards would support research and development over three years in advanced storage systems and other grid modernization projects at DOE’s national laboratories and their partners. About half of the money is available now, with much of the rest contingent on annual congressional appropriations, according to a DOE spokesman.

“Modernizing the U.S. electrical grid is essential to reducing carbon emissions, creating safeguards against attacks on our infrastructure, and keeping the lights on,” Moniz said in a statement.

The Grid Modernization Multi-Year Program Plan outlines a vision for the modern grid and “identifies key challenges and opportunities” for it. For example, it defines six key technical areas such as “design and planning tools” and “sensing and measurements” needed to modernize the nation’s grid infrastructure.

The framework builds on concepts from DOE’s Quadrennial Technology Review and Quadrennial Energy Review, road maps for DOE’s research and development efforts over the next five years (Greenwire, April 21, 2015).

The announcements come as part of DOE’s “Grid Modernization Initiative,” a broad strategy to solve a variety of grid challenges such as integrating renewable power and boosting resiliency against climate change. The $220 million would flow through another DOE entity, the Grid Modernization Laboratory Consortium, a collaboration launched in 2014 among 14 national laboratories and regional networks to work on the issue.

The department announced more than 80 projects today that are slated to receive funding, including a microgrid project in Alaska to help reduce diesel consumption and one to address grid vulnerabilities in hurricane-prone New Orleans. More related programs and “funding opportunity announcements” on the grid initiative will be announced in “coming days,” the department said.