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FirstEnergy to receive $57.4m in smart grid grants

3 Jun 2010

FirstEnergy, an NYSE-listed diversified energy company with several electricity utility subsidiaries, has signed an agreement with the US Department of Energy (DOE) to receive $57.4m in grants to integrate smart grid technologies into its service territories.

The company said the scheme will improve the reliability and interactivity of the electric distribution infrastructure in targeted areas of its Pennsylvania, Ohio and New Jersey service territories.

FirstEnergy said it plans to invest around $114.9m on smart grid technologies that will help determine the enhancement potential of the smart grid integration.

The DOE grants, which were preliminary agreen on in October 2009, will be matched by funding already approved for recovery over time by utility commissions in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, it said.

But the Ohio smart grid programme is currently on hold pending continuing commission review of the programme proposal.

‘FirstEnergy was one of 100 companies selected by the DOE to receive smart grid investment grants,’ said John Paganie, vice president of energy efficiency for FirstEnergy.

‘Our goal is to use these smart grid programmes in targeted areas to help lay the groundwork for possible widespread deployment and implementation.’

The company said the DOE grants and approved utility commission funding will be used to install smart grid technology in the York, Pennsylvania, area served by Metropolitan Edison and to expand the technology already deployed in a number of communities throughout the Jersey Central Power & Light service area.

A voluntary load control programme for 23,000 customers in the York area will help reduce peak demand through an integrated system that directly controls air conditioners and other customer appliances during periods of high usage, it said.

Expanding on smart grid technologies installed earlier this year, the Pennsylvania voluntary control programme involves more than 20,000 customers in New Jersey has the potential to reduce peak load by 30MW, it added.

The smart grid technologies FirstEnergy intends to integrate include distributed automation, direct load control, smart metering, volt control, advanced protection devices and wireless security, all of which it said would help improve system reliability and efficiency.

FirstEnergy is headquartered in Akron, Ohio, and comprises seven electric utility operating companies, controlling a total capacity of more than 14,000MW.

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