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Vermont uses DOE grant for smart grid technology

SUBNET Solutions Inc | Thursday, September 29, 2011

Burlington, Vermont, has been working to integrate smart grid technology into its existing power infrastructure since April of 2010, but after the City Council approved $6.2 million to be spent on software, equipment and other smart grid necessities, the city is really getting a surge in smart grid improvements, according to the Vermont Digger.

The Burlington Department of Energy (BED) is cooperating with utilities around the state to promote awareness of the benefits of smart grid technology. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has also helped to expand deployment of the new methods through grants that have totaled $69.8 million.

According to the news source, the grant from the DOE covers an estimated 50 percent reimbursement for the integration project, while state and local governments have agreed to pay the remainder of the costs. Burlington expects to pay a total of $14.3 million.

Ken Nolan, manager of power resources for BED, recently briefed the City Council on what is needed for smart grid integration, and supplied estimated costs. The most crucial aspects of integration, Nolan said, were data management systems, which cost $1.05 million, and upgrades to the Utilities Group for Supervisor Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system, which cost $877,215. SCADA, according to Nolan, is important to the system, as it could be described as the central nervous system of energy distribution.

The media outlet states that Vermont's reputation as a leader in energy innovation and smart grid development has attracted the attention of Sandia National Laboratories, which has formed a partnership with the University of Vermont to conduct further studies.

So far, Burlington has spent $4.4 million on the conversion process, focusing primarily on substation improvements. BED has asked the City Council to approve expenditures as a package, but because some vendors have not yet been selected and more contracts are expected to be signed, the council is holding off on such approvals.

Central Vermont Public Service and Green Mountain Power, two of Vermont's biggest electric utilities, are currently working with BED to raise smart grid awareness, the news provider stated.

Utilities across the country are gravitating toward smart grid implementation. Oklahoma Gas and Electric has agreed to pay for new smart grid technologies, as the utility has recognized that buying peak energy or building new generation is more expensive than initial smart grid investments, according to Green Tech Media.

SUBNET Solutions, Inc., a solutions provider, plays a a crucial role in smart grid integration by offering substation automation and cyber security features based on interoperability and remote access. 

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