Electric co-ops want US smart-grid funding

  • March 28, 2023
  • Steve Rogerson
Cooperatives power 56% of the USA’s landmass.

NRECA Research, the research and development arm of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA), wants US government funding to deploy smart-grid technologies.

It has applied for Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding from the US Department of Energy (DoE).

If approved, the application will accelerate the deployment of smart grid technologies at 69 electric co-ops that serve 6.5 million consumers across 26 states. Co-ops will use the funds to complete high-priority grid modernisation projects and increase the reliability and resilience of their electric power systems.

“Electric cooperatives are hubs of innovation and are always exploring new ways to meet their consumers’ evolving energy needs,” said NRECA CEO Jim Matheson. “This is an important opportunity for co-ops to partner with DoE to accelerate the adoption of new technologies to improve the resilience and affordable operation of the nation’s electric grid.”

NRECA Research’s consortium bid enables smaller co-ops to work together and submit a competitive application for infrastructure funds. It’s also the most effective way to ensure the funding benefits rural disadvantaged communities, a high priority for the administration.

Specific co-op projects in the consortium application cover a range of technologies, including analytics, distribution automation, unmanned aerial systems and advanced metering infrastructure.

NRECA Research has organised consortia to foster collaboration between co-ops and submit competitive infrastructure funding applications. These consortia are organised around five topics: electric vehicles; microgrids; cyber and physical security; natural hazards mitigation; and smart grids and data.

The NRECA is the national trade association representing nearly 900 local electric cooperatives. From growing suburbs to remote farming communities, electric co-ops serve as engines of economic development for 42 million Americans across 56 per cent of the nation’s landscape. As local businesses built by the consumers they serve, electric cooperatives have meaningful ties to rural America and invest $12bn annually in their communities.