The Dept. of Energy has selected 32 projects to receive a total of $620 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds to advance and evaluate new technologies to make the nation's electricity grid more effective. The DOE funding will be complemented by more than $1 billion in private-sector matching funds for those projects.

The "smart grid" funding awards, announced Nov. 24, include energy-storage pilot projects, as well as plans that involve smart metering and distribution and transmission monitoring equipment. If the demonstration projects prove the worth of the technologies, DOE says they will lead to more extensive applications around the U.S.

The new round of DOE ARRA smart grid grants follows the department's Oct. 27 announcement of $3.4 billion in stimulus-act funds for other electricity-grid upgrades.

Of the $620-million total, $435.2 million is for 16 regional demonstration projects, including $88.8 million to Battelle Memorial Institute for a five-state project in the Pacific Northwest. Among the project's features is two-way communication between distributed generation, storage and other facilities and the existing grid in that area.

The program also provides $184.8 million for 16 energy-storage projects. The largest DOE grant in that category is $29.6 million to New York State Electric & Gas Corp., Binghamton, for an advanced 150-megawatt Compressed Air Energy Storage technology plant in a salt cavern.