Public Power Magazine

DEED changes name with plans for more scholarships, bigger awards


March-April 2013 issue
Vol. 71, No. 2

DEED
By Laurel Lundstrom
March-April 2013

With a simple and subtle name change, APPA’s signature research, grant-making and educational program, known in the public power community as “DEED,” now better reflects its scope and history. After 32 years as the Demonstration of Energy-Efficient Developments program, DEED in November 2012 became Demonstration of Energy & Efficiency Developments.

“DEED funds a broad array of projects and its prior name implied we funded only energy-efficiency [projects],” said DEED Program Director Michele Suddleson.  “We wanted to make it clear we are more than just energy-efficiency projects—we are energy and efficiency”.

Since its birth in 1980, DEED has awarded more than $10 million in funding — in the form of grants to public power utilities and scholarships to students — to support energy innovation that improves efficiencies or lowers costs. DEED’s membership has grown from 133 public power utilities to 742 members today.

Similar to past years, 2012 concluded a diverse range of projects including those that tested the impacts of charging plug-in electric vehicles on the grid, assessed customers’ understanding of smart grid concepts and strengthened DEED’s role as an innovation platform by continuing its participation in DSTAR, a consortium of electric distributors that sponsor collaborative and pragmatic research and development on distribution.

While the 2012 projects neared completion, DEED’s board of directors and several former board chairs addressed strategic planning and ultimately voted to change the program’s name. The APPA board of directors approved the change along with a new educational scholarship, modifications to how scholarships are awarded and an increase in the maximum amount of grant funds DEED can award to utility projects.

Reaching students earlier
DEED’s scholarships are a vehicle for attracting students to careers in public power and this has become more important in light of impending work force shortages, said Suddleson. “Because our scholarships have been tied to students doing real research and producing a report and other deliverables, however, we weren’t attracting junior students who are in an earlier stage of career exploration and who might not be ready for a real research project.”

Through a series of 10 $2,000 scholarships awarded annually beginning in October 2013, DEED will reach students entering technical fields that face worker shortages and high demand among public power utilities. Although there is no research component, there will be a mentoring component.

 “We also modified the other [DEED] scholarships to increase the connection between the student and utility…and to improve students’ understanding of public power and working at a utility,” Suddleson said. 

Under the new terms, a utility working with a DEED-funded scholarship recipient will be required to provide opportunities for the student to learn about public power by, for example, taking the student on a tour of the utility or inviting the student to spend one or more days shadowing an employee. DEED will also award students $1,000 in travel funds to attend local, regional or national public power-related educational meetings or conferences to further expose students to public power as a career choice.

Increasing awards
There was a record number of applications for scholarships in 2012, in part due to APPA’s new web-based application for scholarship and grants, Suddleson said. Also popular were DEED’s webinar series, which will continue with a dozen webinars each year. 

The other big transformation is a jump in award sums, which will increase after 11 years at the same rate, from a maximum award of $75,000 up to $125,000. “Projects are getting more expensive and it is important for us to provide enough co-funding to be relevant and so that it is worthwhile for members to apply,” said Suddleson.

On average, DEED awards between $500,000 and $700,000 in funding each year.

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