Rumors that the Department of Energy was going to announce the first winners of $3.9 billion in smart grid stimulus grants this week have been greatly exaggerated.
That's according to Jen Stutsman, DOE deputy press secretary, speaking Tuesday at the GridWeek conference in Washington, D.C..
The jam-packed smart grid industry event has had its share of hopeful rumors that grants from the DOE's commercial-scale and demonstration-scale smart grid programs might come a bit early this year (see DOE Issues Rules for $3.9B in Smart Grid Stimulus Grants).
But Stutsman reiterated that the DOE expects to make its first announcements in mid-November, dashing those hopes.
Beyond that, Stutsman remained tight-lipped on how DOE was going to comb through nearly 600 applications that, added up, are asking for far more money than DOE has available (see Green Light posts here and here).
One thing's for sure, though – the DOE won't be giving out more money than the maximums it's established for its $3.4 billion investment grant program and its $615 million demonstration grant program. Those limits have been placed at $200 million and $100 million per project, respectively (see DOE Lifts Smart Grid Stimulus Cap to $200M).
But even that clear-cut line isn't so clear. For example, Stutsman declined to say how DOE might handle the grant applications of Texas utility Oncor, which has made separate requests for $200 million to lower the cost of its 3.4-million smart meter deployment, $58 million for telecommunications and $58 million for distribution automation systems, all from the investment grant program, as well as $3.5 million from the demonstration grant program (see Green Light post and Oncor Makes $317M Smart Grid Stimulus Pitch).
Nor did Stutsman say whether the DOE would prefer to fully fund fewer projects, or perhaps give less money than requested to more projects.
What about the idea that sore losers may file lawsuits over being denied money? That potential threat was raised by Frank Ramirez, CEO of Ice Energy, in a talk at the GoingGreen conference in Sausalito, Calif. last week (see Green Light post).
Stutsman didn't respond directly to what the DOE would do if sued over its smart grid stimulus grants, but did say that, "In a competitive bidding process, there are always going to be companies that have been selected and those that haven't."
Let the waiting resume.