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DEED board approves nearly $600,000 in grants for utility research projects

From the November 8, 2013 issue of Public Power Daily

Originally published November 8, 2013

By Jeanne LaBella
Sr. Vice President, Publishing
The board of APPA’s DEED (Demonstration of Energy & Efficiency Developments) program approved nearly $600,000 in funding for 11 new research undertakings. The board met in Sacramento, Calif., in September to review and act on fall-cycle funding requests.

The largest grant, $124,000 for the Tennessee Valley Authority, will support an existing Electric Power Research Institute project to test market research methods for assessing consumer receptiveness to new electric service plans. Research completed by EPRI has shown that utility programs involving smart meters, time-of-use rates and demand response programs are more successful when utilities and customers have a stronger understanding of the programs and their potential benefits, TVA said in its grant proposal. With the DEED grant, EPRI, working as a subcontractor to TVA, will test the tools in actual market applications at the regional level.

The DEED board awarded grants totaling $104,606 for two projects at Memphis Light, Gas and Water in Tennessee. The utility will develop a power system educational program to provide on-the-job training to utility engineers. The program is intended to extend the reach of power engineering training beyond current utility staff, to university students and others with an interest in the field. The Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at the University of Memphis is working with the utility on the project. The second MLGW project, "Maintaining Distribution Relay Protection Coordination by Using Bridge-Type Fault Current Limiter," is designed to develop and implement a lower cost approach to relay protection on electric grids with distributed generation. Using a superconducting fault current limiter is a suggested method, but superconducting equipment is expensive because it requires refrigeration to maintain superconductivity. Memphis LGW is collaborating with the University of Memphis on this project too. Incorporating the less expensive approach in electrical engineering courses is a goal of the project.

Minnesota Municipal Utilities Association was awarded an $87,750 grant to develop and produce the second edition of the APPA SafetySmart video series. The first edition of the series was produced in 2002. The second edition of the series is expected to consist of nine videos, which will be produced over the next three years.

Wadsworth Electric and Communications in Ohio is the recipient of a $65,000 grant to support creation of optimal messages for maximum consumer engagement in energy management tools. The utility is working with Arcmetra, a software company, on the project. As part of the project, the utility will prepare a top five list of the most effective messages for motivating residential customers to participate in demand response programs, a top five list of the most effective rewards for driving engagement, and summary statistics on how Wadsworth customers used various energy management options over time. Wadsworth E&C also will develop tools to support implementation of similar programs at other public power utilities.

Azusa Light & Water in California was awarded a $60,000 grant to test residential-scale thermal energy storage units. Azusa L&W will work with manufacturer Ice Bear and the Southern California Public Power Authority on this project. The technology has worked well at commercial installations in California and DEED grants supported early use of the larger system. Azusa will work with two volunteer residential customers with single direct-expansion, refrigerant-based air conditioning systems of three to four tons. Each residence will test a prototype ice-based thermal energy storage unit. If successful, the technology could have broad potential for utilities nationwide with a summer peak driven by residential air conditioning. The technology is expected to reduce air conditioning demand during peak hours of the day by 95 percent, Azusa said in its grant proposal.

Cuyahoga Falls Electric System in Ohio has been awarded $50,000 to test distribution feeder automation and conservation voltage-reduction using high-speed communications and patented Jdiff technology. The project aims to switch manufacturing load on a feeder to another feeder within one-tenth of a second when a power loss occurs. Beyond the reliability boost, the utility hopes to reduce energy consumption by using the technology for voltage control.

Seattle City Light has been awarded $50,000 to field test an ionic air filtration system for heating and air conditioning systems. The utility will work with the Sensors, Energy and Automation Laboratory at the University of Washington. The air filtration equipment is expected to reduce equipment and maintenance costs, save energy, improve safety and reduce pollutants.

Columbia Water and Light in Missouri was awarded $50,000 to support phase two of its project to test use of hay, grass and cornstalk biomass in boilers designed for coal. Supply and handling logistics present an obstacle to using this type of biomass; woody biomass is used more often because its texture and hardness is closer to that of coal. Use of biomass in traditionally coal-burning generators offers potential for keeping some power plants in service, the utility said.

Iowa Association of Municipal Utilities was awarded a $5,400 grant to support its project to catalog and summarize existing state laws and incentives that enhance or impede public power development of solar photovoltaics. The project report will identify best practices for state policies to support municipal solar installations.

Platte River Power Authority was awarded $1,000 for its continued participation in the Colorado State Science Fair awards. PRPA uses the grant money to award cash prizes to high school science fair entrants and to encourage them to consider a career in public power.

APPA’s DEED program, established in 1980, has awarded more than $1 million in grants in 2013, a record amount for a single year. The DEED board awarded nearly $600,000 in grants and scholarships last spring (See Public Power Daily, May 14, 2013). 

For more information about DEED, visit


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Senior Vice President, Publishing 
Jeanne Wickline LaBella

Editorial Director
Robert Varela

Editor, Public Power Daily
Jeannine Anderson

Communications Assistant
Fallon W. Forbush

Manager, Integrated Media 
David L. Blaylock

Integrated Media Editor 
Laura D’Alessandro