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Lockheed to bolster utilities looking for DOE smart-grid funds

Global defense contractor Lockheed Martin is teaming with Black & Veatch, a major construction and consulting company, to offer utilities a suite of products they can use to improve their smart grid implementations. The idea is that their technology will up efficiency and grid security, making utilities more attractive recipients for grants being doled out by the U.S. Department of Energy.

So far, the DOE has taken a first round of applications for the $4.5 billion it has earmarked for smart grid grants. Lockheed and Black & Veatch have already supported several of these applicants, and say they hope to do the same for utilities applying in subsequent rounds and for loans via the DOE’s renewable energy and advanced energy transmission programs.

The partners, which have not disclosed any financial terms of the deal, say they will focus on improving infrastructure for smart meters, substations and data distribution between energy consumers and utilities. Demand response also factors highly, with the companies providing tools for utilities to balance their grids’ loads during peak energy hours.

Lockheed is no stranger to the utility business, having already worked with several to integrate its information management and cyber security systems. The company says it also offers software for utilities to simulate various scenarios and achieve greater interoperability (a major priority for any smart grid deployment). Black & Veatch also seems like a natural partner, having worked on major telecommunications and transmission construction projects in the past.

The partnership announcement is yet another example of major corporations throwing their hats into the smart grid ring. Already, Cisco Systems, AT&T, IBM, Intel, Microsoft and General Electric have publicly promoted their involvement. But Lockheed is a somewhat unique example due to its emphasis on cyber security. One of the major concerns slowing smart grid development is its vulnerability to hackers. If the one-time aerospace and defense leader rises to the forefront of grid security providers, it could rake in serious money.

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