Since Richard Nixon was President, the federal government has been talking about reducing our reliance of foreign oil. Since 2008, our dependence has dropped from 57 to 42 percent. The foreign oil has been replaced by domestic oil and gas, conversion of power plants to natural gas, and investments in renewable power like wind (4% US production and) and solar power. Coal has remained a constant, although future regulations of coal plant emission may alter this. Federal loans from DOE have included $13 billion for solar energy, 1.7 billion for wind and 10 billion for nuclear power. All other renewables account for 1.2 billion. Power companies have invested in the renewable technologies in part because of low loan rates from the federal government, and partly due to tax credits (2.2 cents/kW-hr), but power entities like NextEra Energy have made cleaner power a basis of their future. So what does this have to do with water utilities? First, water and wastewater plant are often the largest users on the power grind in communities. This is why they are able to get load control agreements. The peak demands are the load control agreements, which means power providers can construct fewer plants, and keep rates down. At the same time water and wastewater utilities benefit fro reduced rates, but have construct backup systems (which are needed if the power grid fails anyway. Benefit to both parties. But as the demands for power on the grid increase, and as regional demands in areas that are substantially constructed already, locating new power is difficult. Transmission losses are 6 or more percent, and involve complicated federal FERC regulations. So the SMART grid issue is distributed power, and finding sites for distributed power might be tough. Or maybe not. Water and wastewater plants have land, so there is an obvious fit. But the rub is that if the water and wastewater people own the facilities, it decreases the peak capacity, meaning the power entities must build more capacity. So perhaps there is a means to get revenues (leases) to water folks, while helping the smart grid. I am thinking about developing a project proposal for this. Let me know if you are interested. Meanwhile if you have a success story, I’d love to hear it.