Cantwell Announces $20 Million for Avista Utilities Smart Grid Investments

Funding Represents Federal Investment Championed by Cantwell to Make the Nation's Electricity Grid Smarter, Stronger, More Efficient, and Reliable

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) announced that Avista Utilities in Spokane will receive a federal investment of $20,000,000 to implement smart grid technologies that will create jobs and lead to lower electricity bills for consumers.  The funding will be used to implement a distribution management system, intelligent end devices, and a communication network to reduce distribution system loses, enable automatic restoration to customers during outages, and allow for the integration of on-site generating resources.  For years, Cantwell has lead efforts to invest in technologies that will improve the nation’s electricity grid and she pushed to include this funding in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.  Smart grid is a broad range of technologies, both hardware and software, which when linked together are able to communicate to optimize how electricity is generated, transmitted, distributed, and used. 


“The nation’s electricity grid is starting to show its age and is straining to meet an ever-increasing demand,” said Cantwell.  “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.”


The funding for Avista is part of $3.4 billion in grant awards included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Avista will match this funding to help create jobs and provide Washington state consumers with a stronger, more reliable grid that will reduce their overall energy costs.


 “We are very grateful for the work of Senator Cantwell and the Obama administration in bringing stimulus funding to an application that will directly benefit the economy in our region,” said Scott Morris, Chairman, President and CEO, Avista Utilities. “This would not have been possible without Senator Cantwell’s tireless support.”


Cantwell authored the groundbreaking Smart Grid title of the 2007 Energy Bill.  This established a smart grid research, development, and demonstration program at the Department of Energy; required the development of an interoperability framework; established a federal matching grant program; created a Smart Grid Advisory Committee to advise the federal government on the deployment of smart grid technologies; initiated a Smart Grid Task Force to coordinate the federal government’s smart grid policies; and encouraged state utility regulatory commissions to allow for rate recovery for smart grid investments. 


Without Cantwell’s smart grid title, funding for the grants announced today may not have been possible.