Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Markets and Pricing

If consumers are willing to accept more variability in price, they can get a discount from a flat base rate because the cost of delivering service goes down

J. Community Solar

“What if everyone, absolutely everyone, could own their own solar panels?”

I. California Net Metering 
monday, november 3, 2014 
The solar industry and the state’s utilities disagree over just what impact net metering has on electricity rates, utility costs and grid operations.

H. Texas Retail Electricity Market 
Electricity deregulation allows multiple companies to compete for business in an electric market, but some argue that the system implemented in Texas in 2002 has led to higher prices for consumers.

Smart meters don't offer much value to consumers unless coupled with dynamic pricing, California PUC is currently researching whether or not to replace tiered rates.

F. Community Choice Aggregation
Procures renewable sources of electricity and partners with a utility to distribute energy to local communities, You get all the advantages of cleaner, greener, healthier energy consumption AND all of the advantages of the established, experienced energy provider.

E. Wholesale Electricity Markets
sunday, august 5, 2012
Once generated, electricity must be able to instantaneously find an end use. The precise balancing act between creating electricity and getting it to the end user requires the ultimate just-in-time market.

Regulatory market to create competition can also hamper smart grid development. The rules force separation of supply, wholesale transmission, and retail distribution functions. But all those areas need to coordinate to optimize smart grid planning and data usage.

MONDAY, APRIL 16, 2012
Obligates utilities to buy renewable electricity at above-market rates set by the government.

monday, October 31, 2011
How will frequency regulation and load management be monetized?

MondaY, june 11, 2011
Experience in the introduction of retail competition has been mixed

By breaking the link between the utility's sales and profits, decoupling creates an incentive for utilities to sell less energy and focus on energy efficiency.

Community Solar

“What if everyone, absolutely everyone, could own their own solar panels?”

Navigate this Report
Back to Markets & Pricing Index
1. Background

2. Acronyms/Definitions
3. Business Case
4. Benefits
5. Risks/Issues
6. Success Factors 
7. Case Studies
8. Companies/Organizations
9. Links

  • Community Solar  is a solar electric array with multiple subscribers connected to the utility grid. The subscribers may purchase a portion of the power produced by the array and receive a credit on their electric bill. Utility customers within the community solar area, including residences, businesses, local governments, non-profits, and faith-based organizations, can all subscribe to the sun.

  • xxx

2. Acronyms/Definitions
  1. Colorado Community Solar Gardens Act - House Bill 10-1342 passed in 2010 - Allows people to own an interest in solar panels that are not on their property. Becoming part of a community solar garden brings clean, sustainable power to renters of homes, apartments or offices, condo owners, people with locations that are not ideal for solar panels or live in areas with homeowner associations that limit the number or location of panels. The act also aids utility companies in achieving their state-mandated 30 percent renewable energy standard as customers sell excess power back into the grid.

  2. Community Solar Garden - A community shared solar array with grid-connected subscribers. Homes and businesses, even if shaded by trees, receive a bill credit as if the panels were on their own roof using “virtual net metering”

  3. SB-843 - Community-Based Renewable Energy Self-Generation Program  - A California bill that nearly passed in 2012 that would have establish a new business model that would have allowed developers of renewable projects to sell electricity to customers of Investor Owned Utilities (IOUs).

    Sponsored by State Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis, SB-843 would have allowed customers in Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), Southern California Edison (SCE) and San Diego Gas & Electric's (SDG&E) service territories to participate in community solar programs. According to Roofhe programs had the potential to double the amount of rooftop solar installed in California
  4. Solarize East Bay - 
  5. SUN Act  - Solar Uniting Neighborhoods Act - Sponosored by U.S. Rep. Mark Udall, D-El Dorado Springs, which will give federal tax rebates to solar panels hosted in solar gardens.

  6. Virtual Power Plant - xxx

3. Business Case
  • xxx

4. Benefits
  • Solar with Shade - Enables shaded properties to take advantage of solar

  • Transferable - Allows interests in solar generation facilities to be portable and transferable.  People who might move to take advantage of solar

  • Solar for Renters - Allowing everyone to purchase community solar subscriptions benefits
    the customers by allowing them access to benefits, from rebates to tax incentives, that homeowners get.  Enables people who rent a home or apartment to take advantage of solar.

  • Tree Preservation - By hosting panels on another rooftop or a community solar garden, people can protect the trees that shade their houses.   Share the Land with ecological restoration and agricultural stewardship, using easements. Plant trees and hedges for visual screening that also take carbon out of the air.

  • Shade Over Pavement - Instead of competing with photosynthesis. It’s better to place the solar panels on shade structures above paved areas such as parking lots and driveways. New cars can plug in here.  Combine with features like roads, power lines, and snow fences.

  • Local Distributed Power -  Build to fit within the urban or rural landscape, with most PV facilities under 1 Megawatt. Use existing distribution lines. The grid is the tree, and the solar panels are the leaves. One of the benefits for the utilities is more renewable power generated in areas where it is used and sold to the grid.   Net-metering calculations by utility companies often leave out factors such as the possibility money could be saved by relying on renewable sources instead of building new infrastructure.  Utilities benefit by avoiding transmission costs to homeowners who are supplying their own needs. See my post Distributed Energy Resources

  • Local Jobs - Use Local Designers: Architects, artists,  can create concepts for installations that reflect local character
  • Environmental Benefits - Avoids destroying delicate habitats,
5. Risks/Issues
  • xxx

6. Success Factors
  1. Collaboration to identify sites: Many customers want to be able to see and show the solar PV projects they buy power from. However, current community solar efforts usually focus on developing projects on sites that will be interconnected quickly and have low lease terms. Projects don’t have to be located at one site though, and could be more valuable if they’re located near customers and installed at certain locations. Utilities and solar companies could work together to identify a portfolio of sites, including remote fields, parks and parking lots, and nearby customer rooftops, and then provide customers with options and allow them to choose to buy from the sites they find most desirable.
  2. Clear and transparent procurement processes: Today, solar projects are typically procured through a one-time request for proposals (RFP). However, solar companies could decrease their costs if they have higher volume certainty over time. They could do this by revising the RFP process, seeking a multi-year contract (three to five years) for distributed PV installations. As part of this deal, the solar company would need to meet certain performance benchmarks over time.
  3. Joint marketing: Surveys show that many customers are still unaware of the opportunities in investing in solar PV. In fact, many of these shared solar programs have enrolled subscribers through word-of-mouth alone. The utility can help increase subscribers quickly, using its access to customers to increase awareness through bill inserts and online engagement on the utility webpage. Also, the utilities and solar companies can co-brand and co-message the program, emphasizing the simplicity and convenience — customers won’t need house visits and crews to install equipment on the customers’ premises, will not be involved with any on-site operations and maintenance, and could change locations without the hassle of relocating any physical equipment. Shared solar also could create an opportunity to market other utility programs. For instance, a customer interested in community solar also could be someone interested in efficiency or electric vehicles, and it makes sense to either offer bundles of measures together or target customers for new technology offerings as they become available.
  4. Community engagement: Due to the nature of shared projects located near customers, there’s a reason these programs have been called “community solar.” Yet few programs have fully embraced a community-oriented approach to encourage high levels of customer participation. In addition to traditional utility access channels, the program can meet customers where they are, engaging possible participants at community centers, including places of worship, to generate enthusiasm. 
7. Case Studies

  • East Bay Community Solar Project -
    Comparison with Purchase OptionAve. cost per watt in CA:                                             $5.66
    Approx. cost per watt with project:                               $3.66*
    4kW system w/o project: $22,760 - 30% tax credit =  $15,848 
    4kW system w/ project: $14,760 - 30% tax credit =    $10,248 
    Total savings from participating in the project**=         $5,600

    * Rates are advertised to be at least slightly better than this. If enough people sign up, project rates could be significantly better than this.
    ** This does not include the standard savings from going solar itself, which can amount to tens of thousands of dollars more on top of the savings from this bulk discount.
    Zero-Down Option with Bulk Discount RateIn addition to getting solar for zero-down, as is standard in the industry, participants will also receive the discounted rate offered by the winning bidder, which will very likely be a better deal than any other rate available to people going solar individually.
  • Arizona Salt River Project customers sign up for kW blocks and buy the output at a fixed rate, which represents a near-term premium of ~10 percent but also provides participants with bill savings if rates increase. More than 1,000 residential customers and 100 schools have participated in the program
  • Duke Energy’s Green Source Rider program in North Carolina enables nonresidential customers to displace new load with renewable energy. Duke handles customer applications and then arranges power purchase agreements with renewable energy suppliers. Participants buy the generation at the power purchase agreement rate and receive a credit based on avoided energy and capacity rates.

8. Companies/Organizations
  1. East Bay Community Solar Project - On-going community based bulk purchase of solar in the East Bay of the San Francisco Bay Area.   The project is independent of any solar company. East Bay Community Solar Project has administered a competitive bidding process, after recruiting an independent, unpaid, volunteer contractor selection committee. This committee, made up of community members interested in going solar themselves, selected the contractor. This is meant to ensure that the project is transparent and executed with community sovereignty, while also providing the larger group of participants the option of responsibly delegating the legwork of bid review to the committee.
  2. - Westminister, CO -  Unit of SPH

  3. SPH - Solar Panel Hosting Inc Westminister, CO -  Company based in Westminster, CO, that facilitates solar gardens. As a hosting service provider, SPH facilitates subscribers and hosts. Hosting services might include assistance with community organizing, training, financial modeling, working with vendors, subscriber management, and facilities and operations management.

  4. Vote Solar - San Francisco - Fiscally-sponsored project of the Tides Center,  501(c)(3)   through the Tides Center and 501(c)(4)  through The Advocacy Fund.   A non-profit grassroots organization working to fight climate change and foster economic opportunity by bringing solar energy into the mainstream. Since 2002, Vote Solar has engaged in state, local and federal advocacy campaigns to remove regulatory barriers and implement key policies needed to bring solar to scale.

9. Links
  1. Major Community Solar Bill Falls Short In California: What Went Wrong?
     by Jessica Lillian - Solar Industry Magazine Sep 4 2012

  2. Vote Solar: Community Solar Bill Would Bolster California's Economy - Solar Industry Magazine, June 7, 2012
  3. Rocky Mountain Institute How community projects boost customer access to distributed solar by Mathias Bell Feb 17, 2015 (Success Factors)

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Smart Grid Stimulus

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act contains $4.5 billion for Smart Grid initiatives.

Navigate this Report
Back to Stiumulus & Regulation Index
1. Background
2. Acronyms/Definitions
3. Programs
4. Business Case
5. Benefits
6. Risks/Issues
7. Next Steps
8. Success Factors
9. Links

  • In October 2009, President Obama announced the largest single energy grid modernization investment in U.S. history, funding a broad range of technologies that will spur the nation’s transition to a smarter, stronger, more efficient and reliable electric system. The end result was intended to promote energy-saving choices for consumers, increase efficiency, and foster the growth of renewable energy sources like wind and solar. The $3.4 billion in grant awards are part of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, and were matched by industry funding for a total public-private investment worth over $8 billion.

  • Full listings of the grant awards by category and state are available HERE (By Category) (pdf) and HERE (By State) . A map of the awards is available HERE.

  • [August 4, 2011 Update] - The debt deal reached by the White House and Congress will likely trigger deep spending cuts for many energy and environmental programs for years to come, a shift many fear could have long-term repercussions on  the emergence of new energy technologies. With Congress poised to make spending reductions in exchange for raising the debt ceiling by $2.4 trillion — including $917 billion in discretionary cuts over the next decade — experts predict environmental agencies at the federal and state levels and grant-funded programs should brace for significantly reduced budgets.   While it remains unclear where cuts will occur, one former Republican congressman told Politico he expects the U.S. Department of Energy could see less funding for programs dealing with fuel cells, biofuels, wind and nuclear energy.

2. Acronyms/Definitions
  • ARPA-E- Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy A new United States government agency set up to promote and fund research and development of advanced energy technologies. It is modeled after the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Supports innovative high-risk, high pay-off energy research that accelerates traditional and alternative energy sources and energy efficiency that are not likely to be pursued independently. APRA-E will not fund improvements to existing technologies; this research will continue to be supported through existing DOE programs, such as those of the DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.
    • Under the DOE Office of Science National Initial Budget $400,000,000. Funding is expected to quickly ramp-up to $1 billion in subsequent years.
    • ARPA-E Program Managers are given extraordinary autonomy and resources to pursue high-risk technological pathways, quickly assemble research teams to “crash” on projects, and start and stop projects based on performance and relevance. ARPA-E projects will not be subject to the traditional peer-review system.
    • DOE awarded $151 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds on October 26 for 37 energy research projects under the ARPA-E. More than 3,600 initial ARPA-E concept papers were submitted to the first competitive merit review by experts and this first round of grants will go to researchers and inventors in 17 states and will support the research and development of new renewable energy technologies for solar cells, wind turbines, geothermal drilling, biofuels, and biomass energy crops.

      The grants will also support a variety of energy efficiency technologies, including power electronics and engine-generators for advanced vehicles, devices for waste heat recovery, electrically controlled windows and control systems for smart buildings, light-emitting diodes (LEDs), reverse-osmosis membranes for water desalination, catalysts to split water into hydrogen and oxygen, improved fuel cell membranes, and more energy-dense magnetic materials for a variety of electronic components.

      Six grants will go to energy storage technologies, including an ultracapacitor, improved lithium-ion batteries, metal-air batteries that use ionic liquids, liquid sodium batteries, and liquid metal batteries.
    • As Eli Kintisch reported on the fate of the agency’s budget for Science Insider, in March 2011:

      “The young agency [ARPA-E]… is living off $15 million it received in 2009 after having committed some $400 million in stimulus funding. Without more money, the program will have to start cutting staff members or other expenses this summer…
    • The White House request[ed] $550 million for ARPA-E in 2012, [but] Congress had authorized only $306 million for the agency in last year’s reauthorization of the America COMPETES Act. Even $50 million for the rest of the fiscal year would put a squeeze on the agency. ARPA-E might stay alive, but it would be a shell of the juggernaut that attracted 2000 people to the [summit event].”
  • ARRA - American Recovery and Reinvestment Act
  • EERE - Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy - An office within the United States Department of Energy that invests in high-risk, high-value research and development in the fields of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies. The Office of EERE received $1,457,241,000 in fiscal year 2007, $1,722,407,000 in fiscal year 2008, and requested $1,255,393,000 for fiscal year 2009. EERE funds 10 major program areas:
    1. Biomass
    2. Building Technologies
    3. Federal Energy Management
    4. Geothermal Technologies
    5. Hydrogen, Fuel Cells and Infrastructure Technologies
    6. Industrial Technologies
    7. Solar Energy Technologies
    8. Vehicle Technologies
    9. Weatherization & Intergovernmental
    10. Wind and Hydropower Technologies

  • FOA – Funding Opportunity Announcement
  • OE –Office of Electricity Delivery and Reliability,
    Lead DOE office for the Smart Grid One of OE’s primary responsibilities in carrying out smart grid activities is to evaluate and report on the implementation progress of smart grid technologies, tools, and techniques across the country according to specific, quantitative metrics.

3. Programs
  1. Advanced Battery Manufacturing Research - $2 billion - Competitive grants for advanced battery research, development, demonstration and deployment to support next-generation plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) and their advanced battery components. Of the $2 billion, $1.5 billion will go to U.S. manufacturers to produce high-efficiency batteries and their components; $500 million for US manufacturers to produce other components for electric vehicles, such as electric motors.
    • Information on solicitations are available at
    • The ARRA grant funds were quickly appropriated and apportioned. The rapid grant-making occurred because of the urgent nature of the economic crisis.The largest awards within the Electric Drive Vehicle Battery and Component Manufacturing Initiative were granted to Johnson Controls, Inc ($299 million) and A123 Systems ($249 million), both in Michigan, to manufacture advanced batteries and packs for hybrid and electric vehicles. The four next largest grantees, three of which are also based in Michigan, were EnerDel, General Motors Corporation, a Dow/Kokam joint venture, and LG Chem.

    • The largest infrastructure piece of the grant announcement was an award that went to the Electric Transportation Engineering Corp (eTec), the charging infrastructure arm of ECOtality, to work with Nissan to demonstrate 5,000 of Nissan’s 100-mile range LEAF model EVs and deploy roughly 13,000 chargers in pilot programs in five U.S. regions (Portland, Salem, Eugene and Corvallis, OR; Seattle, WA; San Diego, CA; Phoenix and Tucson, AZ; and Nashville, Chattanooga, and Knoxville, TN).

    • ARRA also revised electric vehicle tax credits for U.S. consumers. Under the new law, U.S. residents who purchase GEVs will be able to claim a base tax credit of $2,500 for a vehicle with a battery of at least 5 kWh and $417 dollars per kWh from 5 upward, capping at an additional $5,000.155 The maximum tax credit, therefore, is $7,500. The credit applies to the first 200,000 vehicles per manufacturer.

  2. Applied Research, Development, Demonstration, and Deployment Activities - $2.5 billion. - Competitive grants available for energy efficiency and renewable energy research, development, demonstration; and deployment to universities, business, and national laboratories. Includes a minimum of $800 million for biomass projects, $400 million for geothermal projects and $50 million for Information and Communications Technology. The remaining funds can be used for other energy efficiency and renewable energy research. Information on any solicitations are available at:

  3. Assisted Housing: $1.76 billion - US Housing and Urban Development distributes $250 million to improve efficiency of low-income housing, $1 billion for public housing, and $510 million for Native American housing.

  4. Bonneville and Western Power Administration $6.5 billion - Direct Loans and borrowing authority for new construction and upgrading of electric power transmission lines and related facilities. BPA’s first project using additional authority is the 79-mile McNary-John Day transmission line that will relieve constraints and enable a higher percentage of renewables to be integrated into the BPA system.

  5. EECBG - Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program $3.2 billion. Grants go to states, local government and tribal government to support the development of energy efficiency and conservation strategies and programs, including energy audit programs and projects to install renewable energy projects at government buildings.
    • Administered by DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
    • Includes $400 million to be awarded on a competitive basis.
    • About $302 million of California’s funds will go directly to large cities and counties. Interested parties are encouraged to contact their local city or county for ways to partner for the Block Grant funding.

    • $49.6 million will be allocated by the California Energy Commission. The CEC will make 60% of these funds ($29.7 million) available to small cities and counties through a competitive grant program. The remaining 40 % will be expended at the Energy Commission’s discretion for Energy Independence Security Act-related activities. The Energy Commission’s guidelines and application process for small cities and counties is not available yet. More information about these Block Grants is available at

  6. Energy Efficient Appliance Rebate Program & Energy Star® Recovery Funding - $300 million. States may receive funding if they have a rebate program for Energy Star® products and submit an application to DOE. Guidelines have not been released.

  7. EFRC’s – DOE Energy Frontier Research Centers - $1.2 Billion
    • DOE Office of Science will invest $777 million in 46 Energy Frontier Research Centers over the next five years using regular appropriations and ARRA funding. Although funding specifics have not been released, each of these EFRC’s will receive between $2 million–$5 million annually..
    • Of the 46 EFRCs selected, 31 are led by universities, 12 by DOE National Laboratories, two by nonprofit organizations, and one by a corporate research laboratory.
    • There are four target areas:
      1. Renewable and Carbon-Neutral Energy (Solar Energy Utilization, Advanced Nuclear Energy Systems, Biofuels, Geological Sequestration of CO2)
      2. Energy Efficiency (Clean and Efficient Combustion, Solid State Lighting, Superconductivity)
      3. Energy Storage (Hydrogen Research, Electrical Energy Storage)
      4. Crosscutting Science (Catalysis, Materials under Extreme Environments, other)

  8. Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant - $3.2 billion - The DOE distributes grants to state and local governments and Indian tribes for energy audit programs, conservation, renewable energy and other initiatives.

  9. Green Schools - $9.75 billion The DOE provides funds to renovate schools, including improving building efficiency.

  10. Federal Buildings - $8.5 billion - Several agencies, including the Department of Defense and General Services Agency, receive these funds to modernize buildings and make them more efficient.

  11. Military Facilities- DOD received $7.4 billion in ARRA funds with approximately $1.9 billion earmarked for energy efficiency improvements and renewable projects for military facilities. The funds for energy projects will be distributed in these areas: almost $1.4 billion for Facilities Sustainment, Restoration & Modernization; $100 million for Military Construction; $120 million for Energy Conservation Improvement; and $300 million for Near-Term Energy Efficiency Demonstration and R&D. The DOD expects that 80% of these ARRA funds will be awarded on a competitive basis to help stimulate the economy.

  12. Plug-in Hybrid and Electric Vehicle Tax Credits - ARRA contains several changes to the plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) tax credit originally included in the Energy Improvement and Extension Act of 2008 that have been included in the updated reference case. For example, ARRA allows a $2,500 tax credit for the purchase of qualified PHEVs with a battery capacity of at least 4 kilowatthours. Starting at a battery capacity of 5 kWh, PHEVs earn an additional $417 per kilowatthour battery credit up to a maximum of $5,000. The maximum total PHEV credit that can be earned is capped at $7,500 per vehicle. The PHEV tax credit eligibility and phase-out are specific to an individual vehicle manufacturer. The credits are phased out once cumulative sales of qualified vehicles reach 200,000 vehicles. The phase-out period begins two calendar quarters after the first date in which a manufacturer’s sales reach the cumulative sales maximum after December 31, 2009. The credit is reduced to 50 percent of the total value for the first two calendar quarters of the phase-out period and then to 25 percent for the third and forth calendar quarters before being phased out entirely thereafter. The credit applies to vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of less than 14,000 pounds.

    AARA also allows a tax credit of 10 percent against the cost of a qualified plug-in all electric vehicle with a battery capacity of at least 4 kilowatthours. This credit is subject to the same phase-out schedule as PHEVs.

  13. QECB - Qualified Energy Conservation Bonds - $3.2 billion - The US Treasury Department allocates the qualified bonds to state and local governments and tribes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Money can be used to finance building retrofits, to demonstrate peak use reduction and green building technology.

  14. Recovery Act Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credits - On January 8, President Obama announced the award of $2.3 billion in Recovery Act Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credits for projects across the United States. The Obama Administration says that the 183 projects in 43 states will generate more than 17,000 high quality clean energy jobs and the domestic manufacturing of advanced clean energy technologies including solar, wind, and efficiency and energy management technologies. This investment will be matched by as much as $5.4 billion in private sector funding likely supporting up to 41,000 additional jobs.

    The statute authorizing the 48C tax credits allows projects that are completed on or after February 17, 2009, when the Recovery Act was signed. Projects must be commissioned before February 17, 2013. The statute favors the selection of projects that are in service early. As a result, some of the selected projects already have been completed and begun operation.

    The application deadline for the 48C program was October 16, 2009. Over 500 applications were received with tax credit requests totaling over $8 billion. The 48C applications pool was distributed across many clean energy technologies and was geographically distributed to more than 40 states.

  15. SEP - State Energy Program - $3.1 Billion - Authorized on March 12, 2009, to support various programs in residential, commercial, transportation, industrial, institutional, and agricultural energy efficiency in renewable energy research and deployment and in transmission planning.
    • $226 million was allocated to California which will be administered by the CEC
    • In June 2009, DOE awarded California $90.4 million for a statewide effort to leverage funds for an energy efficiency retrofit program and cost effective clean energy systems for residential, commercial and industrial buildings and facilities. The program will also invest in green workforce training, creating more jobs focused on energy efficiency and clean energy sources including solar and wind. The California Energy Commission is developing the SEP guidelines and will present the draft guidelines in July public workshops.

    • Up to $95 million in ARRA funds are being offered with three State Energy Program competitive solicitations. Local jurisdictions, non-profits or private organizations are encouraged to submit their proposals for the Municipal Financing Program ('AB 811-type programs'), the California Comprehensive Residential Building Retrofit Program and the Municipal and Commercial Building Targeted Measure Retrofit Program. Proposals are due to the Energy Commission by November 20, 2009. For the Solicitations go to:

  16. SGIG - Smart Grid Investment Program - $4.5 Billion - Will provide grants up to $200 million to support research and development of smart grids and regional, utility-scale energy storage and synchrophasor demonstrations. DOE will provide grants of up to 50% of qualifying smart grid investments to support manufacturing, purchasing and installation of existing smart grid technologies that can be deployed on a commercial scale.. Eligible applicants include electric utilities, companies that distribute or sell electricity and appliance and equipment manufacturers.
    • DOE anticipates making awards in October 2009, March 2010 and June 2010. All costs for these awards must be invoiced and paid by September 30, 2015.
    • Merit Review Criteria
      1. Adequacy of the Technical Aproach for Enabling Smart Grid Functions (40%)
      2. Adequacy of the Plan for Project Tasks, Schedule, Management, Qualifications, and Risks (25%)
      3. Adequacy of the Technical Approach for Addressing Interoperability and Cyber Security (20%)
      4. Adequacy of the Plan for Data Collection and Analysis of Project Costs and Benefits (15%)

  17. SGDP - Smart Grid Demonstration Program - $615 million Authorized by the EISA, Title XIII, Section 1304 as amended by the Recovery Act. The intent of SGDP is to provide financial support, up to one-half of the total project cost, to demonstrate how a suite of existing and emerging smart grid technologies can be innovatively applied and integrated to prove technical, operational and business-model feasibility. The ultimate aim is to demonstrate new and more cost-effective smart grid technologies, tools, techniques, and system configurations that significantly improve upon the ones that are either in common practice today or are likely to be proposed in the SGIG Program. Furthermore, these demonstration projects should serve as models for other entities to readily adapt and replicate across the country. 
  18. Regional Transmission Planning $80 million - The stimulus bill also provides assistance for the development of interconnection-based transmission plans to conduct a resource assessment and an analysis of future demand and transmission requirements after consultation with FERC.

  19. Renewable Energy Loan Guarantees - $6 billion Competitive loans for renewable power generation (including wind, solar, biomass, geothermal, and methane gas) and advanced transmission projects that avoid and lower air pollutants and green house gas emissions. Information on any solicitations are available at:

  20. Transportation Electrification Initiative - $400 million Funds could be used by ports for portside electric power for ships and electrification of drayage trucks, truck-stop electrification, and airport support equipment electrification. Includes plug-in electric drive program as authorized in Section 131 of the EISA. Recipients will likely be states, local governments, port authorities, and metropolitan transportation authorities.

    This initiative includes the ChargePoint America program where Coulomb Technologies is offering nearly 5,000 free chargers to L.A. residents. A similar project from ECOtality will provide up to 8,300 EV drivers with free units and subsidized installation.

    ChargePoint America, is providing electric vehicle charging infrastructure to nine selected regions in the United States:
    Boston, MA
    Bellevue/Redmond, WA
    Sacramento, CA
    San Jose/San Francisco Bay Area
    Los Angeles, CA
    Austin, TX
    Southern Michigan (including Grand Rapids,
    Lansing, Ann Arbor, Detroit)
    New York City, NY
    Washington DC/Baltimore
    Orlando/Tampa, FL

    Coulomb is partnering with three leading automobile brands including, Ford, Chevrolet and smart USA. In support of the ChargePoint America program, the three automakers have committed to deliver electric vehicles in the nine designated US regions. These vehicles are the Chevrolet Volt, Ford Transit Connect, Ford Focus BEV and smart fortwo electric drive that will be introduced throughout the US along with this program. They will begin delivering these full electric or plug-in hybrid electric vehicles into these regions during 2010 and 2011.

    To build the electric vehicle-charging infrastructure, Coulomb Technologies will provide a total of nearly 5,000 fully networked Level II (220v) ChargePoint Networked® Charging Stations at no cost in the participating regions. There are two types of networked charging stations being offered through the program: home and public/commercial. Installation of these charging stations in most cases will be paid by the station owner (host) or the individual.

    There are two phases of the program. The first, lasting 18 months until October 2011, will consist of allocation and installation of all charging stations. The second, lasting 2 years until October 2013, will consist of data collection. All participants in the ChargePoint America program must agree to anonymous data collection. As the charging stations are all networked, this data collection is primarily automated.

    Individuals in the target regions purchasing one of the partner automakers vehicles will be eligible to receive a ChargePoint Network home charging station at no cost. Acquiring one of these charging stations will be organized by the automaker during your vehicle purchase process.
    Companies and municipalities in the selected regions will be eligible to receive networked charging stations at no cost. The objective is to place charging stations strategically across the metropolitan areas in a variety of settings including public places, private garages, airports, train stations, malls, movie theatres, rental car agencies, restaurants, and other likely locations where owners of electric vehicles park their cars and need to charge.

  21. Weatherization Assistance - $5 billion - The DOE administers formula grants for the weatherizing of low-income family homes. The states channel the funds to housing, community, economic development, energy or environmental non-profit agencies.

  22. Workforce Training for the Electric Power Sector - The Department of Energy will give $100 million in grants to fund 54 smart grid workforce training programs. Ideally, 30,000 Americans will receive training to implement the smart grid programs that were funded by the DOE and private investors in 2009.

    The programs run the gamut of smart grid activities, ranging from classes for electricians and line workers to security specialists. Some programs will specifically target veterans and displaced workers. Some grants go straight to schools, while others will go to Native American Indian corporations and others still will go to private organizations. Unlike many of the technology grants already issued by the DOE, the grants are not concentrated heavily onto one or two recipients. The grants are fairly well distributed across the country and generally range in value from under $100,000 to a little above $4 million. A full list of recipients can be found here.

4. Business Case
  • Investment Grant Program is intended to enable smart grid functions on the electric system as soon as possible.
  • The Demonstration program is aimed at identifying and developing new and more cost-effective smart grid equipment, tools, techniques, and system configurations that can significantly improve upon today’s technologies. It will demonstrate technologies that embody essential and salient characteristics of each region and present a suite of use cases for national implementation and replication. From these use cases, the goal is to collect and provide the optimal amount of information necessary for customers, distributors, and generators to change their behavior in a way that reduces system demands and costs, increases energy efficiency, optimally allocates and matches demand and resources to meet that demand, and increases the reliability of the grid.
  • The overall purpose of the SGIG is to accelerate the modernization of the nation’s electric transmission and distribution systems and promote investments in smart grid technologies, tools, and techniques which increase flexibility, functionality, interoperability, cyber-security, situational awareness, and operational efficiency. This purpose will be accomplished through a merit-based, competitive solicitation for projects to receive Federal financial assistance for up to 50% percent of eligible project costs. This financial assistance is intended to enable measurable improvements that can result from accelerated achievement of a modernized electric transmission and distribution system, including:

    • Reliability of the electric power system.
    • Electric power system costs and peak demand.
    • Consumer electricity costs, bills, and environmental impacts.
    • Clean energy development and greenhouse gas emissions.
    • Economic opportunities for businesses and new jobs for workers.
    • Applications are sought in the following project areas:

Area of Interest (AOI) Title Estimated Number of Selections Anticipated Anticipated Award Sizes
1. Regional Demonstrations 8-12 Total See below
1.1 Regional Demonstrations with Investor-Owned Utilities 6-8 $20M to $40M each
1.2 Regional Demonstrations with Publicly-Owned Utilities 2-4 $5M to $20M each
2. Synchrophasors
Reliability Coordinator saturation demo
Reliability Coordinator synchrophasor backbone demo
Phasors for Renewable Generator Interconnection
NASPInet demo
4-5 Total $15M to$20M each
3. Energy Storage 12-19 Total See below
3.1 Battery Storage for Utility Load Shifting or for Wind Farm Diurnal Operations and Ramping Control 1-2 $40M to $50M total
3.2 Frequency Regulation Ancillary Services 1-2 $40M to $50M total
3.3 Distributed Energy Storage for Grid Support 4-5 $25M total
3.4 Compressed Air Energy Storage (CAES) 1-4 $50M to $60M total
3.5 Demonstration of Promising Energy Storage Technologies.
New electrochemical couples and processes have been identified but have not yet been developed to the demonstration stage
5-6 $25M total

5. Benefits
  • The goals of the SGIG program involve accelerating progress toward a modern grid that provides the following specific characteristics that DOE believes define what a smart grid would accomplish:
    • Enabling informed participation by consumers in retail and wholesale electricity markets.
    • Accommodating all types of central and distributed electric generation and storage options.
    • Enabling new products, services, and markets.
    • Providing for power quality for a range of needs by all types of consumers.
    • Optimizing asset utilization and operating efficiency of the electric power system.
    • Anticipating and responding to system disturbances.
    • Operating resiliently to attacks and natural disasters.

  • The social benefits of a smart grid are reduced emissions, lower costs, increased reliability, greater security and flexibility to accommodate new energy technologies, including renewable, intermittent and distributed sources.

6. Risks/Issues
  • Tax Liability - The Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service initially determined that Smart Grid stimulus grant awards were taxable, but on March 10 the DOE announced utilities don’t have to pay taxes on their Department of Energy smart grid grants. The IRS will provide a “safe harbor” for utilities that are in line for a piece of the $3.4 billion in stimulus backing for smart grid projects. In Rev. Proc. 2010-20, the IRS noted that the DOE grant is considered a contribution to capital that is not subject to tax under section 118 of the Internal Revenue Code. Section 118 of the Internal Revenue Code provides that, in the case of a corporation, gross income does not include a contribution of capital to the corporation. However, the DOE contribution reduces the basis of for purposes of depreciation. Rev. Proc. 2010-20 became effective March 10, 2010 and does not apply to non-corporate taxpayers or to DOE grants related to smart grid research, development, and demonstration.
    Project Size Limits - The initial $20 million limit on the demonstration program was too low, but that has been corrected.
  • Bureaucracy - The government has less interest in ROI than venture capitalists. Their interest is not in seeing a technology achieve commercial success, it is in policy advancement, and political gain. We may get to the same or similar endgames no matter who is funding the technology development, but with the government doing it, it will cost more to get us there in the aggregate.
  • Competing Government Mandates -  Regulators and utility officials at the GridWeek conference in Washington DC Sept 2011 said the pending spate of EPA rules tightening sulfur, nitrogen, mercury and particulate emissions, with deadlines hitting coal plants in the next four years, will force investment dollars into abatement projects and away from longer-term efforts like smart grid.

7. Next Steps
  • H.R. 1685: Electric Drive Vehicle Deployment Act of 2011 - In May 2011, U.S. Representative Judy Biggert (R-IL) joined Reps. Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Jerry McNerney (D-CA), and Anna Eshoo (D-CA) to introduce the Electric Drive Vehicle Deployment Act—legislation designed to fast track the deployment of energy-saving electric vehicle and plug-in hybrid technologies. The bipartisan sponsorship is a seemingly rare thing in the current Congress. However, there’s a hefty price tag, which could be its undoing. The act authorizes the DOE to award up to $300 million each to 10 communities around the country that will serve as test beds for EV manufacturing and deployment and to develop best practices. The act includes various incentives for manufacturers and consumers, including the extension of tax credits. These communities will then serve as domestic hubs for EV manufacturing and deployment, as well as proving grounds for best practices. The Electric Drive Vehicle Deployment Act guarantees these consumer benefits:
    • At least $2,000 (beyond existing tax credits or other federal and local incentives) for the first 50,000 EV consumers within each deployment community
    • An extension of 2014 federal tax credits for the purchase and installation of electric vehicle charging equipment for individuals (up to $2,000) or businesses (up to $50,000 for multiple equipment purchases).

  • As of October 2011, only 40% of the $4.5 billion stimulus funding for the Smart Grid has been spent, so smart grid vendors and utilities have another year or so before projects finish and they emerge from what speakers called "stimulus fever." But as they look for the next steps in upgrading the nation's aging transmission systems, they're finding competing priorities, difficulty proving to regulators that near-term benefits exceed the costs, and skepticism about investment timing.
    8. Success Factors
    • As government funding for renewables becomes constrained it should be focused on R&D at the expense of deployment. Not only would the available money go much farther, but it would also create more options for the future.
    • Ensure that whatever the government does spend on deployment should go to projects that are close to being viable without help, or in the case of the military that enhance combat capabilities. That means, for example, focusing solar development assistance on sunny places like the southwest--preferably in proximity to existing transmission infrastructure--and putting an end to paying people to install utility and rooftop solar in places that receive less than about 5 "peak sun hours" (kWh/m2) per day.
    • A greater emphasis on exports to developing country markets, where energy demand is growing at impressive rates and where renewables are becoming increasingly popular, would increase export earnings and employment while participating in volume-related unit cost reductions

    9. Links
    1. In November 2009, DOE Secretary Steven Chu announcing the award of $620 million for projects around the country to demonstrate advanced Smart Grid technologies and integrated systems. Thirty-two demonstration projects were awarded funding, including large-scale energy storage, smart meters, distribution and transmission monitoring system monitoring devices, and a range of other smart technologies.
    2. In July 2009, DOE announced $47 million in Recovery Act awards that will support existing projects that are advancing demonstration-scale smart grid technologies which will play an important role in modernizing the country’s electricity grid. Breakdown of projects, award amounts and locations appears below.
    3. FAQs on Smart Grid Investment Grant FOA(doc)
    4. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has issued Initial Implementing Guidance for the Recovery Act. Applicants should consult the DOE website, the OMB website , and the Recovery website, regularly to keep abreast of guidance and information as it evolves.
    5. Podcast on tracking the Stimulus Spending with
    6. EFRCs - DOE Energy Frontier Research Centers.
      1. Fact Sheet (pdf)
      2. Reports
    7. California Energy Commission charged with coordinating information about energy related opportunities Track it here
    8. Looking for a thumbnail update on the ARRA energy-related programs? Check out the weekly updated Summary maintained by the California Energy Commission:
    9. The agenda, presentations, and documents for California State Energy Program (SEP) are available at:
    10. NETL - Solicitations / Funding Opportunity Announcements
    11. Earth2Tech - Cheat sheet on all of the companies that they’ve heard have applied or are working on applications for some of the $3.4 billion in DOE stimulus funding for the smart grid
    12. Lawrence Berkeley Lab - Interactions between Energy Efficiency Programs funded under the Recovery Act and Utility Customer-Funded Energy Efficiency Programs Report, Presentation, Appendix
    13. SGIG 6 YEARS (OR SO) LATER  - It’s hard to believe that it has been six years since the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) passed—which included $4.5 billion for the Office of Electricity and Energy Reliability to help modernize the nation’s electrical grid. The actual deployment of Smart Grid Investment Grant (SGIG) projects began around mid-2010, and pretty much wrapped up by mid-2014. The study of these investment impacts will continue through mid-2016.