DOE Spends $60 M of ARRA Funds on Grid Connections
Energy Secretary Steven Chu on Dec. 18 announced award selections for $60 million in funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to support transmission planning for the country's three interconnection transmission networks.
The following organizations have been selected for awards:
- Eastern Interconnection. Eastern Interconnection Planning Collaborative ─ $16 million; Eastern Interconnection States' Planning Council ─ $14 million;
- Western Interconnection. Western Electricity Coordinating Council ─ $14.5 million; Western Governors' Association ─ $12 million;
- Texas Interconnection. Electric Reliability Council of Texas ─ $2.5 million; Electric Reliability Council of Texas for work with Texas government agencies ─ $1 million.
The six awards will promote collaborative long-term analysis and planning for the Eastern, Western and Texas electricity interconnections, which will help states, utilities, grid operators, and others prepare for future growth in energy demand, renewable energy sources, and Smart Grid technologies. This represents the first-ever effort to take a collaborative, comprehensive look across each of the three transmission interconnections.
Chu also announced that he has joined with Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Chair Jon Wellinghoff to sign a memorandum of understanding between the agencies to coordinate efforts related to interconnection-level electric transmission planning. DOE will lead electricity-related research and development activities, including research and demonstrations for hardware and software technologies that help operate the country's transmission networks. FERC will continue to oversee electricity reliability standards nationally and will enforce regulations to ensure that all transmission planning happens in an open, transparent and non-discriminatory manner.
"This agreement will allow FERC and DOE to take the regional planning groundwork that transmission operators have laid to the important next step of developing interconnection-wide plans," Wellinghoff said. "These plans have the potential to improve the efficient operation of the transmission system and to reliably integrate new resources such as renewable energy and smart grid technologies. We at FERC look forward to working with DOE, our state colleagues and all stakeholders in this important effort."
The transmission infrastructure in the continental United States is separated into three distinct electrical networks, or "interconnections"– the Eastern, Western, and Texas interconnections. Portions of the Eastern and Western interconnections also extend into Canada and Mexico. Within each interconnection, the addition of new electricity supply sources and the development of transmission needed to deliver electricity to consumers requires careful coordination to maintain the grid's reliability while limiting costs and environmental impacts.
As a result of these planning efforts, each of the awardees will produce long-term resource and transmission planning studies in 2011, with updated documents in 2013.