SAN JOSE, Calif. The U.S. Department of Energy has received more than 400 proposals for economic stimulus grants to deploy smart electric grid systems. The DoE is still tallying the total amount of funds requested, and will start selecting winning proposals in early November.
A top executive at Duke Energy discussed the utility's partnership with meter maker Echelon Corp. (San Jose) as a part of its proposal. Many more partnerships between utilities and vendors and much more work on smart grid standards lies ahead, but the focus now is on moving quickly to deployments, he said.
"What's critical for industry is we get out of pilots, and start building smart grids," said Todd Arnold, senior vice president for smart grids at Duke Energy, which serves four million customers in the Midwest
For its part, Duke requested the maximum $200 million allowed under the grant proposals that closed August 6. Duke's proposal essentially aims to shave two years off an original six-year plan to build networks linking smart meters and distributed automation systems to more than 1.5 million users in Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky.
Duke will submit a separate proposal for another $14 million for pilot systems demonstrating advanced features such as home energy management systems and services for plug-in hybrid cars. Those grant proposals are due in late August.
Earlier this week, Duke announced it struck a partnership with Echelon Corp. (San Jose) to purchase $15.8 million of its Networked Energy Services systems with deliveries starting before October. Echelon said the deal could ultimately represent sales of up to $150 million for its powerline-based NES systems.
Duke liked "how [Echelon's NES] gets data out of the meter to where we have a collection point on the network," Arnold said. "We like their design of their metering infrastructure and the NES system's handling of data at head end, managing the network and handling updates and applications on the smart meter," he added.
The NES system uses Internet Protocol at collector systems between the smart meter and the utility's back office. A government smart grid standards effort called for adopting IP, something Duke's Arnold said is the right direction but will take time.
"That's not going to happen on Day One, so you will hear about 'open interoperability,'" Arnold said. "We have to evolve to more standards in the [smart grid] so people know the key interoperable points," he added.