Powering Strong Communities

Public Power Utility Projects Funded by DOE Include Microgrids, Smart Grid, and Grid Resilience

Projects that will receive funds recently announced by the Department of Energy include the development of microgrids, smart grid projects, and projects aimed at boosting grid resiliency.

White House Infrastructure Implementation Coordinator Mitch Landrieu and Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm on Oct. 18 announced $3.46 billion for 58 projects across 44 states to strengthen electric grid resilience and reliability across America. Along with public power utilities, the 58 projects tapped to receive funding also include those being pursued by investor-owned utilities and rural cooperatives.

The following public power utilities and communities will receive GRIP funding:

  • Grid Resilience Utility and Industry Grants: Electric Power Board of Chattanooga, Tenn., Fort Pierce Utilities Authority (Florida), Jamestown Board of Public Utilities (New York)
  • Smart Grid Grants: Burlington Electric Department (Vermont), City of Lake Worth (Florida), City of Naperville (Illinois) CPS Energy (San Antonio, Texas) Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, Public Utility District 1 Of Snohomish County (Washington State), Sacramento Municipal Utility District (California)
  • Grid Innovation Program: Alaska Energy Authority, City of Kaukauna, Wisconsin

Details on Public Power Projects


Tennessee public power utility EPB will receive $32.3 million from the DOE.

As part of its existing infrastructure development plan, EPB will match the new funding dollar for dollar to add energy storage, transition overhead power lines to underground service and replace aging power poles. 

EPB will utilize GRIP funding to advance three overarching strategies. The efforts will be prioritized to address the areas that most frequently experience power disruptions from storm damage and other causes:

  • Add 15 MW of storage through six 2.5 MW battery installations, primarily in rural and underserved areas. 
  • Invest in transitioning 101 miles of overhead power lines to underground lines. 
  • Improve electric system resilience by replacing 1,338 power poles to prevent and minimize damage and outages, especially to withstand future severe weather. 

In accordance with the U.S. DOE GRIP program’s emphasis on enhancing economic opportunities, EPB is also utilizing the funding in pursuit of its continuing mission to serve the community by establishing partnerships to increase local job opportunities through training and other programs.

Fort Pierce Utilities Authority

The DOE selected Florida public power utility Fort Pierce Utilities Authority to receive $5,828,993 to enhance and modernize the Fort Pierce electric grid.

The funds will advance FPUA’s broader initiative to storm-harden and modernize the electric grid ensuring grid reliability and quality of service for our customers, the utility said. FPUA’s recipient cost share is $2.9 million.

Key features of FPUA’s grant funded project include:

  • Upgrade two critical substation transformers to accommodate growing electric demand.
  • Replace four distribution transformers for modernization.
  • Upgrade a major substation to ring bus configuration for modernization and automation.
  • Install 400 mounted reclosers to reduce outage frequency and duration.

Jamestown Board of Public Utilities

The DOE selected New York public power utility Jamestown Board of Public Utilities to receive $17,377,945.

The funds will advance the “Jamestown Community Microgrid Project,” with the BPU providing a $5,792,648 match, to deploy a microgrid, electric vehicle charging, battery storage and replacement of underground cabling.

The BPU microgrid system involves utilizing existing power generation equipment to power a network of underground electrical distribution circuitry.

The microgrid will ensure that energy will be delivered to public services, the hospital, designated emergency shelters, schools and other businesses as well as to make certain that electric vehicles could be charged during an emergency.

The core area of downtown Jamestown will either remain in electrical and thermal service or experience only a brief outage in a disruptive event if the microgrid is in place, the utility said.

The microgrid will enable most of the community’s first responders and critical services to operate more efficiently in case of a major interruption of service during a disastrous event.

The proposed microgrid system would take advantage of the BPU’s existing gas turbine, its network of underground circuits, the district heating system and the addition of a black start battery storage system.

The award negotiation process is expected to take approximately 120 days before commencement of the project may occur and follow a five-year project timeline.

Burlington Electric Department

Vermont public power utility Burlington Electric Department will receive $1,158,695 from the DOE, with the utility providing $1,160,000 for its recipient cost share.

Burlington Electric Department’s proposed Building Grid-Edge Integration and Aggregation Network of Thermal Storage project focuses on creating a network of grid-interactive efficient buildings.

This technology uses available building energy and other thermal storage resources across residential, commercial, and industrial customers to enable strategic grid-interactive efficient building electrification while minimizing the negative impacts of system peak demands.

City of Lake Worth, Florida

The public power community of Lake Worth, Fla., will receive $23,462,167 (with a matching dollar amount for the city’s cost share) for system hardening and reliability improvements.

The city will install more than 60 reclosers and other sectionalizing devices to autonomously rebalance the electrical system, integrate battery energy storage for community solar, new fiber optics connections, install advanced metering infrastructure, and deploy a meter data management system.

The targeted improvements will transform the community’s electrical grid and reduce its vulnerability to extreme weather events, DOE said.

Benefits include an estimated additional 7 MW of solar capacity and additional fiber optic communications to enhance grid integrity and reduce vulnerability to cyberattacks.

The project is also expected to result in fewer outages, more rapid restoration, decreased use of fossil fuels, proactive live engagement to detect potential issues by the system operators, and improved grid planning for future needs, utilizing analysis tools related to climate change and system load.

City of Naperville, Illinois

The public power city of Naperville, Ill., will receive $1,116,174 (with a matching dollar amount for the city’s cost share).

Through its municipally owned utility, Naperville Electric Utility, the city aims to manage the rapidly growing quantity of new generation, storage, and electrification assets being introduced onto NEU’s grid and to support the state’s clean energy transition to 100% clean, renewable energy by 2050.

Naperville is seeking to deploy a robust distributed energy resource management system, allowing greater visibility, monitoring and control of distributed energy resources, supporting broader load control and conservation voltage reduction programs, and better informing and supporting future distribution system investment planning.

CPS Energy

The DOE selected Texas public power utility CPS Energy to receive approximately $30.2 million to enhance the utility’s ongoing efforts to maintain grid reliability and resiliency.

The DOE funds will advance CPS Energy’s Community Energy Resiliency Program, focused on grid innovation such as installing microgrids to sustain the evolving needs of customers and businesses in the south and southwest portions of San Antonio.

The federal fund includes a required CPS Energy matching commitment of $30.2 million for an approximate combined total investment of $60.4 million, CPS Energy noted.

The federal grant supports CPS Energy’s efforts to create resilient, reliable, affordable energy while supporting sustainability.

As part of the proposal, CPS Energy will invest in innovative grid technology to manage the growing energy demand and further enable efficient grid management. The investment will also support renewable efforts, such as adding microgrids, solar, and battery storage in the southern portion of the city. 

CPS Energy will continue to work with the DOE on the final approval process. CPS Energy plans to complete the Community Energy Resiliency Program in five years.

Los Angeles Department of Water and Power

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power was approved to receive $48 million to enhance LADWP’s grid flexibility, improve the resilience of the power system “against growing threats of extreme weather and climate change, and ensure Los Angeles has access to affordable, reliable, clean electricity throughout all areas of the city,” the utility said.

LADWP will provide $48 million in matching funds.

The grant will help LADWP create one single platform where distributed energy resources like electric vehicles and EV chargers, energy storage, solar photovoltaic systems (PV), and demand response infrastructure can be controlled, in response to grid needs. “Doing so will enable LADWP to quickly rebalance the electrical system after an extreme climate event like wildfires, heatwaves or tropical storms,” it said.

Public Utility District 1 Of Snohomish County

The DOE announced that Snohomish County PUD will be awarded $30 million to improve system reliability, mitigate wildfire risks, and enable demand management. The PUD will provide $30 million in matching funds.

The PUD’s SnoSMART project is a $60 million infrastructure and software project that will deploy hundreds of wireless-connected smart grid devices to the PUD’s distribution grid and upgrade the software tools to operate them.

The SnoSMART project “will revolutionize system visibility and control for PUD grid operators, further prepare the grid for transportation and building electrification, and enhance the utility’s ability to add distributed energy resources through advanced system planning,” the PUD said.

Upon completion, SnoSMART “will reduce energy burden for all PUD customers and help prevent wildfire smoke exposure throughout the region. The project will leverage existing partnerships with tribes, regulatory agencies, local governments, and labor to enhance community and grid resiliency and support safe, healthy, sustainable, and equitable communities.”

This project will accomplish these objectives by:

  • Replacing fire-causing expulsion fuses in highest risk areas
  • Installing hundreds of wireless smart grid devices to improve grid reliability
  • Upgrading aging software and technology systems to enable a more efficient grid

Sacramento Municipal Utility District

California public power utility SMUD was awarded a $50 million grant from the DOE.

SMUD’s Connected Clean PowerCity® project includes a cost share of around $100 million and encompasses a number of technology-enhancing projects that accelerate renewable integration of the following components over the next 5 years:

  • Grid-Edge Intelligence: Deploy up to 200,000 next generation smart meters and Distributed Intelligence applications to enable advanced DI at the grid-edge.
  • Advanced Distribution Management Systems: Deploy Advanced Distributed Energy Resource Management System features with centralized artificial intelligence and integrate Distributed Energy Resources to support the transition from a one-way centralized distribution system to a two-way decentralized system. Deploy up to 100 miles of fiber optic cable to facilitate deployment and improve DERMS situational awareness, control and data quality.
  • Outage Management System Modernization: Implement a new OMS with advanced features to enable operational efficiencies and better customer experience through improved communication, grid automation and modernization.
  • Enabling Technologies: Deploy up to 22,500 intelligent, 2-way load control switches/sensors to cycle air conditioning load on/off during grid emergencies. Deliver 5/15 minute interval data availability for commercial/residential customers.

In collaboration with the Wilton Rancheria Tribe of Miwok Indians, SMUD will work with the Tribe to holistically evaluate building electrification opportunities and the integration of solar, storage and electrification on Tribal lands into the regional grid.

“When we set our ambitious goal to reach zero carbon emissions by 2030, I said that we couldn’t do it alone. I said that we would rely on partnerships and grants to ensure that we could scale new and emerging technologies, while keeping our rates low,” said SMUD CEO & General Manager Paul Lau. “This partnership is the perfect example of how we can work together toward a renewable and resilient grid that supports a decarbonized future. I’m proud that we’re continuing to demonstrate our thought leadership in grid modernization.” 

The five-year project will start with new smart meter technology for 200,000 homes. Main construction and implementation of the first phase will happen within the first two years, and then the projects will roll-out in a phased approach in accordance with DOE contract specifications.

The framework of advanced technologies will enhance the capability of SMUD’s meters and allow for better and increased integration to the grid, it said. The two-way technologies will enable SMUD to precisely manage resources during severe weather events to enhance reliable electric service.

City of Kaukauna, Wisconsin

The public power city of Kaukauna, Wisconsin, will receive $3,012,462 from DOE for its grid resilience project (with the city providing matching funds of $3,012,462).

The primary goal of the project is to increase reliability and resiliency in an area that serves approximately 6,000 Kaukauna Utilities customers, including several critical facilities (such as wells, water treatment facilities, utility dispatch centers, emergency services, shelters), as well as three major hydroelectric generation plants. The area mainly consists of two substations: Badger Substation and Ann Street Substation.

Alaska Energy Authority

The Alaska Energy Authority has secured $206.5 million from DOE. A cost share of 100 percent, or $206.5 million, is required for a total project amount of $413 million.

The awarded Railbelt Innovation Resiliency project will construct a High Voltage Direct Current submarine cable to serve as a parallel transmission route from the Kenai Peninsula to Anchorage, creating a redundant system in case of disruptive events.

In addition, the RIR project will provide funding for multiple battery energy storage systems within the respective serving areas of the Railbelt utilities, with a focus on the central and northern regions of the Railbelt electrical grid. 

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