Federal Grant Awarded to SDG&E for Smart-Grid Innovations

San Diego Gas and Electric was declared eligible for federal grant money to stimulate energy innovations as part of the $3.4 billion in smart-grid funding announced by President Barack Obama. SDG&E gets $28.1 million for its smart-grid system as declared by the Department of Energy out of the $787 billion economic stimulus package.

Such an investment won’t just create new pathways for energy,” said President Obama. “It’s expected to create tens of thousands of new jobs all across America in areas ranging from manufacturing and construction to IT and the installation of new equipment in homes and in businesses.”  Electric customers can save more than $20 billion as an outcome of this program during the next decade, said the president.

The grants from $400,000 to $200 million are intended to assist the utilities in their effort to build smart-grid systems that provide real-time details of the energy utilization that help the customers save money, upgrade the local power grids to pull down the number of blackouts and overall to enhance the employment opportunities in renewable energy.

Chris Baker, a senior vice president for shared services and chief information officer for SDG&E and its sister utility, Southern California Gas, said that the grant will offer a solution to solve the wireless communication needs with a more comprehensive plan. With the grant, SDG&E plans to establish a dedicated 700 megahertz “takeout point” for transmitting data from the smart meters’ wireless mesh network, including those at its substations and certain corners of its grid. The huge amount of funds can be made to envelop half of the $60 million project.

San Diego Gas and Electric has plans to use the federal grant, the state grant of $1 million and the $31 million from the customers to integrate the 1.4 million wireless “smart meters” that are being installed by the utility with an advanced IT system that can monitor, communicate and control the regional power grid extending to 4,100 square miles.

The smart grid can also be made for integrating power through solar installations, wind and other renewable sources. It also paves the way to redirect the power around interruptions and congestion.

SDG&E is in the meantime is waiting to hear about a $100 million stimulus grant it had requested for a $213 million smart-grid demonstration project. That project would introduce “smart” devices in homes, huge batteries to store electricity and technology to integrate renewable power producers.

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