Udall, Bennet Announce $4.8 Million in Recovery Act Funds for Fort Collins Smart Grid Demonstration Project

Project Aims to Reduce Peak Load Electricity Demand, Expand Use of Renewable Energy Sources, Create Local Jobs

Washington, D.C.-Mark Udall and Michael Bennet, U.S. Senators for Colorado, announced today that the City of Fort Collins will receive $4,841,647 in Recovery Act funds from the U.S. Department of Energy for a smart-grid demonstration project that aims to reduce peak load electricity demand by at least 15 percent at distribution feeders and allow for expanded use of energy from renewable sources.

The grant is part of $47 million in Recovery Act Funding announced by Energy Secretary Steven Chu for eight projects to advance smart grid demonstration projects in 7 states, including Colorado.

"The demonstration program in Fort Collins is going to play an important role in speeding up the development of a modern and secure electrical grid, which is critical to ensure we have a reliable electricity system across the country," Senator Udall said. "The program in Fort Collins will create jobs and help us learn how to increase the use of renewable energy, which will pay dividends in the future. This is a key step on the way to expanding our clean energy economy here in Colorado and across America."

"Smart grid technology will be the key to modernizing our outdated, inefficient electricity system, and Colorado is poised to be a leading part of that effort," Bennet said. "The work being done in Fort Collins will not only make better use of renewable energy sources, but also create jobs, make the system work better, reduce outages and improve safety for Fort Collins residents."

The City of Fort Collins, in cooperation with a number of partners in the state, will research, develop and demonstrate a coordinated and integrated system of mixed clean energy technologies and distributed energy resources to reduce peak load electricity demand at distribution feeders and expand use of renewable energy sources.

Secretary Chu also announced $10.5 million in Recovery Act funding available for local governments to develop emergency preparedness plans for their electrical systems. Together, these efforts will help accelerate the development and implementation of a modernized and secure electrical grid, a critical piece in delivering renewable energy to American consumers and ensuring an effective, reliable and efficient electricity system across the country

Projects are implemented by local governments in partnership with utilities, private companies, universities, and other groups.

This investment will add to the $17 million in funds the Department had awarded these projects in 2008 following a competitive award process. By accelerating the completion timelines for each of the projects, the Recovery Act funds will help modernize the electric grid, allowing for greater integration of renewable energy sources while increasing the reliability, efficiency and security of the nation's electricity transmission and distribution system.

The $10.5 million to increase the nation's energy security is available for local governments to apply for competitive energy assurance grants ranging between $60,000 and $300,000. The funding will help cities and counties create jobs, while developing strong emergency response plans that they can rely on during energy emergencies and supply disruptions, which can have devastating economic, health and safety impacts on local individuals and businesses.

In addition, as part of its efforts to inform Congress, energy stakeholders, and the public about smart grid efforts, the Department of Energy today released the first Smart Grid System Report, which examines the status of smart grid deployments nationwide and any regulatory or government barriers to continued deployment. The report finds that while many smart grid capabilities are just beginning to emerge, the adoption of various technologies - such as smart metering, automated substation controls and distributed generation - is growing significantly.

The report also notes that smart grid capabilities are socially transformational and that to achieve broader deployment and implementation, we are likely to need larger cultural change. As with the Internet or cell phone communications, smart grid technologies have the potential to dramatically change how we experience electricity in the country, but improvements in physical and cyber security and information privacy will require consumers, manufacturers and utilities to closely follow a range of grid best practices.

Finally, Secretary Chu announced today that the Department has begun the development of a Smart Grid Information Clearinghouse, which will have a Web site charged with answering questions from the public and distributing information about smart grid initiatives happening around the country.