SAN JOSE, Calif. Proposals from chip designer Intellon Corp. and white goods giant Whirlpool were among the 100 selected Tuesday (Oct 27) to share $3.4 billion in federal funds to accelerate deployment of smart electric grids.
Intellon will receive nearly $5 million to help fund the design of a low cost powerline networking chip for use in smart meters and in-home devices. Whirlpool will get $19 million to design and deploy a million networked clothes dryers that can respond to fluctuations in grid demand and pricing.
Honeywell Inc. and M2M Communications also won direct awards of $11 million and $2.2 million respectively for developing remote management systems and services for smart grids.
But the vast majority of the economic stimulus funds will go to utilities for smart grid programs in 49 states. Duke Energy was among a handful taking the maximum $200 million in grants for a proposal valued at $851 million including matching funds—the biggest of the 100 projects.
The Dept. of Energy smart grid awards cover a variety of technologies and all states - except Alaska.
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Winners will get the funds within 60 days for projects expected to take one to three years. A wide variety of OEMs making everything from smart meters to back-end networks and sensors expect to participate in those projects in coming months.
"I'm sure these utilities will go through a procurement process to determine who their suppliers will be and we look forward to a busy next few months," said Dave Pacyna, senior vice president of transmission and distribution systems at Siemens Energy.
"We played a variety of roles, some very detailed, in preparing specific applications" for the grants, he added.
Makers of smart electric meters were among the most visible winners. The winning proposals included plans to deploy some 18 million of the devices that will act as home communications hubs.
"While the grants were pending, the whole market went on pause because people were waiting to see if they would get funding," said Jeff Lund, vice president of business development for Echelon Corp. (San Jose) which makes chips and software for smart meters.
"Even those projects that didn't get funding at least have the uncertainty removed so they are off hold now," Lund added.
Other smart meter makers were quick to praise the Obama Administration for its efforts. "We look forward to the momentum that these grants will generate in the industry and the economy." said Malcolm Unsworth, chief executive officer of Itron Inc. (Liberty Lake, Wash.).
Itron said four of its customers—including CenterPoint Energy and San Diego Gas--were among the awardees. The company claims it has contracts to deploy more than 14 million smart meters to date.