The Department of Energy ("DOE") has released a Funding Opportunity Announcement from the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability ("OE"), outlining goals for developing, populating, managing, and maintaining a Web-based Smart Grid Information Clearinghouse.

The DOE is required to implement this clearinghouse before it is eligible to receive $4.5 billion in funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009[1] (the "Stimulus Package Act"), which is earmarked for a Smart Grid investment program.

In addition, the DOE announced it has received energy-related funds under the Stimulus Package Act. Specifically, the DOE received $3.4 billion earmarked for "Fossil energy research and development," $3.2 billion for energy efficiency and conservation project block grants, and $1.2 billion for "science." The DOE recently formulated and released plans for distributing these funds.

Smart Grid Information Clearinghouse Funding Opportunity[2]

To expedite the distribution of energy investments under the Stimulus Package Act, most are allocated to existing federal energy initiatives. Funds allocated to the Smart Grid Investment Program will be used to implement Smart Grid technology research, development, and demonstration authorized under title XIII of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.

The Stimulus Package Act amends certain aspects of the Energy Independence and Security Act, including the additional requirement that the DOE establish and maintain a Smart Grid information clearinghouse in a timely manner. The information clearinghouse must make data from Smart Grid demonstration projects and other sources available to the public as a condition of receiving financial assistance under the Stimulus Package Act. According to the DOE's announcement, up to $1.25 million is available for developing a Smart Grid Information Clearinghouse over a five-year period.[3]

The OE announced the Smart Grid Information Clearinghouse will consolidate public technical, legislative, and other information on Smart Grid development and practices, and direct website users to additional information sources both in the United States and internationally. The goal of the Clearinghouse is to facilitate coordination and collaboration among all Smart Grid stakeholders, ranging from end users to technology developers, to support the advancement of the program for the benefit of the entire nation.

Summary of Anticipated Investments

Since the funds for fossil energy and science are not earmarked for particular projects, the DOE will decide which projects to finance. The DOE is directed to give preference to projects that can be started and completed expeditiously, and to distribute funds in a manner which maximizes job creation and economic benefit.

Fossil Energy Research and Development[4]

The DOE's Office of Fossil Energy developed a plan for distributing the $3.4 billion investment in fossil energy research and development under the Stimulus Package Act. These investments include (in billions):

Competitive Solicitation for Carbon Capture and Energy Efficiency Improvements Projects: $1.52  

Fossil Energy Research and Development Projects: $1.00 

Clean Coal Power Initiative Round III Funding Opportunity: $0.80  

Competitive Solicitation for Site Characterization Activities in Geologic Formations: $0.05 Geologic CO2

Sequestration Training and Research Grants: $0.02  

Program Direction Funding: $0.01  

These initiatives focus on research, development, and deployment of technologies to use coal more cleanly and efficiently. Investments will go toward finding and testing new methods to produce energy from coal (such as gasification), and improving techniques to clean or capture and store the emissions from coal-fired plants.

The Competitive Solicitation for Carbon Capture and Energy Efficiency encompasses a range of industrial projects, including a small allocation for innovative concepts for beneficial reuse of CO2. The Competitive Solicitation for Site Characterization Activities in Geological Formations will fund activities in the context of CO2 sequestration in geological formations.

Funding for Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants[5]

Investments in Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants will be distributed via programs authorized under subtitle E, title V, of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, aimed at reducing fossil fuel emissions and energy use and improving energy efficiency in the transportation and building sectors.

Of the $3.2 billion invested in energy efficiency and conservation block grants, $2.8 billion will be formula grants, allocated to state and local governments based on population and energy use. State and local governments are charged with deciding how to invest these funds to implement local energy efficiency improvements. Projects that reduce total energy use and fossil fuel emissions, and improve energy efficiency nationwide, will be eligible to receive these formula grants. Eligible projects will include:

  • Energy audits and energy efficiency retrofits in residential and commercial buildings;
  • Development and implementation of advanced building codes and inspections;
  • Creation of financial incentive programs for energy efficiency improvements;
  • Transportation programs that conserve energy;
  • Projects reducing and capturing methane and other greenhouse gas emissions from landfills;
  • Renewable energy installations on government buildings;
  • Energy efficient traffic signals and street lights; and
  • Deployment of Combined Heat and Power and district heating and cooling systems.

To ensure accountability, the DOE will provide guidance and require grant recipients to report on the number of jobs created or retained, energy saved, renewable energy capacity installed, greenhouse gas emissions reduced, and funds leveraged.

The remaining $0.4 billion of this funding will be available under a separate competitive solicitation for local energy efficiency projects. That solicitation will be released at a later date.

Science[6]

The DOE announced it will invest the $1.2 billion for science in the following major construction, laboratory infrastructure, and research efforts sponsored by its Office of Science (in millions):

Operations and Equipment at Office of Science major scientific user facilities: $330  

Energy Frontier Research Centers: $277  

Ongoing Construction of the National Synchrotron Light Source-II at Brookhaven National Laboratory: $150  

Needed Infrastructure Improvements for Nine DOE National Laboratories: $125  

Major Construction, Modernization, and Needed Decommissioning of Three DOE National Laboratories $123  

Core Research - support for graduate students, post-docs, and Ph.D. scientists: $90  

Creation of National Scale, Prototype 100-gigabit per second data network linking researchers nationwide: $69  

Ongoing Construction of the 12-Billion Electron Volt Upgrade of Continuous Electron Beam Accelerator Facility: $65  

The majority of this funding is allocated to the DOE Office of Science's 10 National Laboratories. Substantial funding will also be distributed to support university- and National Laboratory-based researchers, working on problems in a variety of energy-related fields, including particle and plasma physics, biofuels, solar energy, superconductivity, solid state lighting, electricity storage, and materials science.

This $1.2 billion investment is the first installment of the total $1.6 billion allocated to the DOE Office of Science under the Stimulus Package Act. The Office of Science is working to enable rapid approval and release of the balance of these funds.