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About $6.3 billion of an approximate total of $7.9 billion in investment has been spent on projects tied to the federal Smart Grid Investment Grant (SGIG) program, according to a progress report released by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

The DOE and the electric utility industry have together invested in 99 cost-shared projects, with 228 electric utilities and other organizations participating. Federal funding amounted to about $3.4 billion, and project recipients added approximately $4.9 billion in private funding. In addition, more than $3 billion has been reimbursed to recipients.

Yet, despite the large investment, the DOE notes that it is relatively small compared to the hundreds of billions of dollars required to implement a fully modern grid in the coming decades.

The SGIG projects are divided into four broad categories - electric transmission systems, electric distribution systems, advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) and customer systems - with many associated with more than one category. Most projects are anticipated to complete equipment installations this year, and data analysis and reporting for these projects will continue through 2015.

Ninety-two of the 99 projects are more than half complete, with the vast majority - 76 of them - more than 70% complete. Only seven projects are less than half complete.

About $380 million has been spent on 19 projects that involve electric transmission systems. Of these projects, 11 are installing synchrophasor technologies and eight are installing line monitors and other equipment.

There are 57 projects associated with electric distribution systems, with approximately $1.49 billion having been spent.

In regards to AMI, about $3.92 billion has been spent on 65 projects. Furthermore, 14.2 million smart meters have been installed out of a planned total of at least 15.5 million.

Approximately $510 million has been spent on 66 projects for customer systems. These projects have installed 623,000 direct load control devices, web portals, in-home displays and/or programmable communicating thermostats.

Project results, based on the DOE's initial analysis, include the following:

- Synchrophasor technologies are beginning to allow grid operators to see and correct grid disturbances before they become significant issues.

- Automated feeder switches and supporting sensors, communications equipment and control systems have caused shorter (up to 56%) and less frequent (11% to 49%) outages.

- During peak periods, conservation voltage reductions ranging from 1% to 2.5% have occurred due to voltage regulators, automated capacitor banks and other advanced volt-VAR technologies.

- Smart meters have lowered utilities' costs by 13% to 77%, based upon operational efficiencies that include reductions in meter reading costs, fewer truck rolls and improved metering services.

- Contingent upon rate designs and types of customer systems, peak demand can be reduced by over 30%.

- Customer recruitment rates for opt-in offers range from 5% to 28% and from 78% to 87% for opt-out offers.

The full report can be found here.

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