Vermont got some very good news recently from the federal government as the state's $138 million Smart Grid Investment Grant proposal ("eEnergy Vermont") was approved through the Recovery Act. The federal government will provide 50% of the funding for this project, about $69 million.
VEIC and Efficiency Vermont's contribution to the grant proposal was in the area of customer systems. We will be working with the distribution utilities and other partners to help evaluate a number of different customer feedback systems. This research will provide a major boost to our efforts to quantify the impacts of behavioral measures on energy efficiency, and determine the combinations of factors such as technologies, rates, and customer support that prove most cost-effective.
This statewide proposal was submitted by all of Vermont's electric distribution utilities, VELCO, and VEIC / Efficiency Vermont, with support from state and congressional leaders. It encompassed three primary areas of focus:
- Automated metering infrastructure and smart meters - about 85% of Vermont electric customers will receive smart meters, supported by an 1,100-mile fiber optic "backbone" network.
- Customer systems such as in-home displays - a variety of end-user energy management technologies will be tested, ranging from simple devices that display home energy usage ("in-home displays"), to more sophisticated devices that can potentially control appliances with networking technologies such as Zigbee. In some cases, dynamic rates and Time of Use rates will be incorporated as well.
- Electric distribution and transmission system grid automation - infrastructure investments to improve grid reliability and security, and enable the grid to more easily take advantage of distributed generation opportunities. Vermont's enactment of the nation's first feed-in tariff for renewable energy was specifically cited in the grant application as one of Vermont's advantages.
Congratulations to all involved!