REC Receives Smart Grid Investment Grant
Oct. 28, 2009
On Tuesday REC learned that it is among 100 U.S. organizations chosen to receive federal Smart Grid Investment grants for projects designed to modernize the country’s power grid. The announcement of award recipients by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) coincided with President Obama’s speech at a Florida solar power facility where he discussed the $3.4 billion funding initiative.
The concept of a “smart grid” is characterized chiefly by two-way communications between energy utilities and devices at power delivery end points (such as meters and appliances). The project that REC will undertake fell into DOE’s Integrating and Crosscutting Systems funding category because it will lay the groundwork for a host of devices to provide usage and cost information to both the cooperative and its members. REC’s project plan includes four major components:
- Communications infrastructure – expanding and upgrading existing microwave and data radio communications systems
- Advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) – installing 12,500 end point devices to more efficiently control electricity demand; replacing 50,000 older electric meters with intelligent meters to enable two-way communications; implementing a system to store and analyze large volumes of usage data
- Systems control and data acquisition (SCADA) – installing equipment at 19 substations to improve distribution system monitoring and management
- Digital distribution automation – replacing legacy hydraulic equipment with digital equipment; improving voltage regulator controls
With greater communications enabled across the electricity delivery system, there will also be a need for additional safeguards. As was the case with the project’s design, REC will be partnering with information security specialists at Lockheed Martin throughout the implementation phases to ensure strict protection of the data.
The money for the Smart Grid Investment awards was made available through the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, and the 100 grant recipients were chosen from 400 projects seeking funding. The REC initiative is one of only two in Virginia that will receive assistance. After DOE’s final round of grant request evaluations, a precise award amount will be determined and could be as much as one half the total projected cost of the project.
REC is a member-owned electric cooperative providing service to more than 103,000 homes and businesses in portions of 16 Virginia counties. Browse this Web site for more information.