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Welch Announces $450,000 Grant for Smart-Grid Program at VLS

April 5, 2010

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U.S. Rep. Peter Welch announcing the $450,000 federal grant awareded to Vermont Law School's Institute for Energy and the Environment to conduct smart-grid research and analysis aimed at updating the U.S. power grid.

SOUTH ROYALTON, VT -- U.S. Rep. Peter Welch on Monday announced a $450,000 federal grant for Vermont Law School's Institute for Energy and the Environment to conduct smart-grid research and analysis aimed at updating the U.S. power grid.

The Department of Energy grant, which was secured by Welch, will strengthen the Institute's reputation as a national leader in smart-grid implementation standards and its efforts to address the reliability, cost and environmental impacts of the nation's energy policy.

The smart-grid project will have two goals:

  • To assess the U.S. power grid's legal and regulatory structures on the national, regional and state levels to improve load management and system-efficiency.
  • To create a model of predictable legal and regulatory standards that addresses the swiftly emerging legal issues of privacy, confidentiality and liability.

"Vermont Law School has long led the nation in addressing challenging questions related to energy and the environment," Welch said. "This grant will bolster VLS's leadership in the field and empower students to tackle the next generation of energy challenges. Most importantly, it will lay the regulatory and legal groundwork for Vermont's coming deployment of smart-grid technology."

Professor Michael Dworkin, director of the Institute for Energy and the Environment, said updating the U.S. power grid to address energy and economic inefficiencies is vital for the nation.

"This project will provide the much needed legal and policy foundation to protect customer information, while increasing the efficiency of managing the transmission system, which will greatly reduce financial costs, environmental emissions and reliability concerns," he said. "Improvements to load management and system-efficiency, including upgrades to the network cables, transformers and power stations, will require a detailed assessment of legal and regulatory structures on the national, regional and state levels."

The VLS grant follows Vermont's successful effort last fall to secure $69 million in federal stimulus funds for its "eEnergy Vermont" plan, which will help the state create jobs, reduce costs and cut fossil fuel emissions by deploying the first statewide Smart Grid system. Part of a $3.4 billion Smart Grid investment created by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Vermont's funding was secured through collaboration between utility companies, state government and the congressional delegation.

Welch was joined at the announcement by VLS Dean Jeff Shields, Environmental Law Center Director Marc Mihaly and VELCO Vice President for External Affairs Kerrick Johnson.

CONTACT: John Cramer, VLS Associate Director of Media Relations
  802-831-1106   , jcramer@vermontlaw.edu

 

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