Electric-utility executives are cheering the announcement that the federal government will promote standards for interoperability and security of a “smart grid” and that Energy Dept. grants for smart-grid investments and demonstration projects will be greatly enlarged. On May 18, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke announced the first set of 16 standards required for smart-grid implementation. DOE also will provide $10 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds to the National Institute of Standards and Technology to support development of the standards. DOE’s maximum award of ARRA funds for the Smart Grid Investment Grant Program
The market is generally healthy and steadily growing, and margins are up for large specialty contractors. Further, advances in design tools and owner demand for collaboration are giving subcontractors a seat at the table early on in projects.