Snohomish County Public Utility District (PUD) today announced that it will receive $15.8 million in funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to embark on a major smart grid technology upgrade, which will create a stronger, more efficient and reliable electrical system. The grant will allow the utility to install a new 156-mile state-of-the-art fiber system and bring up to 76 green jobs to Western Washington. Installation and testing will begin in early 2010.
“This Smart Grid Technology investment award will help Snohomish PUD lay the foundation for a modernized grid system that will enable greater efficiencies and the integration of a diversified portfolio of clean new renewable energy sources,” said PUD General Manager Steve Klein. “Governor Gregoire and the Northwest Congressional delegation have been at the forefront of this effort that not only puts us on the best path for the future but will also put jobs on the street as we begin construction on this important infrastructure.”
The funds will support the installation of a smart grid framework on the utility side, including a digital telecommunications network, substation automation and a robust distribution system infrastructure. It will connect to 62 substations, two radio sites and PUD buildings. It will allow for future smart grid technologies, such as smart meters, which will help the utility and its customers manage power consumption, plan their energy use and ultimately reduce green house gases.
“Snohomish PUD’s project will accomplish a key objective of the state’s energy strategy – improving our electrical grid in order to integrate clean energy sources, empowering more energy efficient use and opening the door for other clean energy technology like plug-in electric vehicles,” said Washington Governor Chris Gregoire. “The PUD has emerged as a strong leader in the research and development of clean energy resources. I am pleased this funding will further its efforts to effectively integrate renewable energy into the smart grid.”
“Investments in smart grid technology will create good jobs right here in Washington state and will help reduce energy costs for families and businesses,” said U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA). “These funds will help Washington state remain at the forefront of the clean-energy economy and will help keep our power grid reliable and secure.”
“The nation’s electricity grid is starting to show its age and is straining to meet an ever-increasing demand,” said Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA). “This funding represents a real commitment by the federal government to infuse intelligence into our electricity grid to make it more efficient and reliable and empower homeowners and businesses to reduce electricity costs and create high-paying, long-term jobs.”
“Building a smart grid and using smarter energy is just smart money,” said Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA). “Washington state has been at the forefront of new energy technology and today’s grants are further evidence of that. SnoPUD has been a terrific partner in these efforts. Their work developing an intelligent distribution grid will lower energy consumption, reduce green house gases, and result in real savings for working families.”
“The Department of Energy’s Smart Grid award will create good-paying jobs and help Snohomish County PUD reduce pollution,” said U.S. Representative Rick Larsen (D-WA), who wrote a letter in support of Snohomish PUD’s application for Smart Grid funds. “This is another example of how the stimulus package is putting Americans to work and building a foundation for future economic growth in our region.”
Smart grid technology also will provide a means for the PUD to better integrate into its electrical system a broad range of locally-generated renewable energy resources, such solar, biomass, low-impact hydropower and geothermal. The utility is actively involved in the research and development of renewable energy resources in Western Washington.
The grant for the PUD smart grid initiative is one of only two in Washington state; the other grant was awarded to Spokane’s Avista Utilities. The grants are part of a larger $3.4 billion ARRA smart grid investment aimed at promoting energy-savings for consumers, increasing efficiency and fostering the growth of renewable energy sources.