News Brief

Grid-Interactive Grants to Benefit Low-income Communities

DOE’s Connected Communities program expands to pilot more community-scale solutions for reducing peak demand.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently allocated $61 million to pilot grid-interactive technologies in ten communities—many of which consist of affordable housing or serve vulnerable populations.

The program, called Connected Communities, is intended to expand the number of grid-interactive efficient buildings (GEBs). These buildings “use smart controls, sensors, and analytics to communicate with the electrical grid, reducing the amount of energy they require during periods of peak demand,” according to a DOE press release. For example, such buildings might turn off certain plug loads, delay the water heating cycle, or draw from onsite batteries in response to signals from the grid (See Changing Building Design for a Changing Electrical Grid).

By DOE’s own estimate, GEBs could save up to $18 billion per year in power system costs by 2030 and cut 80 million tons of CO2 emissions each year. One existing Connected Community, Reynolds Landing in Hoover, Alabama, has already proven to use 39% less energy than a sample of comparable, new construction homes in the Birmingham metro area. It has also been able to reduce the neighborhood’s collective demand for electricity on the coldest day of the year 70% from what a traditional, all-electric community would have otherwise needed.

The new Connected Communities grantees include several focused on low-income end users:

  • Electric Power Research Institute, Inc., which will transform multi-family buildings in affordable housing developments in New York City, Seattle, and San Diego;
  • Open Market ESCO Limited Liability Company, which will renovate up to 20 low-to-moderate-income apartment communities in Massachusetts; and
  • Portland General Electric, which will renovate over 500 buildings in North Portland’s historically underserved neighborhoods.

Published January 10, 2022

Pearson, C. (2021, December 21). Grid-Interactive Grants to Benefit Low-income Communities . Retrieved from

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