The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Transmission Facilitation Program has issued a request for proposals (RFP) for capacity contracts whereby DOE will buy up to 50% of a new or expanded transmission line’s capacity for up to 40 years, and later sell that capacity contract to recover its costs.
The revolving fund program has $2.5 billion in revolving fund borrowing authority, and expects to issue subsequent RFPs to support transmission through public-private partnerships, loans and possibly additional capacity contracts.
Any entity developing a transmission project may apply, said Jeff Dennis, deputy director for transmission development for DOE’s Grid Deployment Office, in a webinar that drew more than 300 participants. Another round of capacity contracts may also be offered, he added.
Two categories of transmission lines are eligible for DOE support: a new or replacement transmission line of at least 1000 MW, or a new or upgraded transmission line of at least 500 MW in an existing transmission, transportation or telecommunications infrastructure corridor. Proposed transmission projects must meet project readiness criteria, and must be ready to commence construction by December 31, 2027.
DOE requires project information that would enable it to certify that the transmission project is in the public interest, and is unlikely to be built in a timely manner, or with as much transmission capacity, in the absence of DOE support. Applicants must provide modeling demonstrating sufficient demand for transmission capacity to support the project’s financial viability, such that DOE has a reasonable expectation that it can recover its costs.
DOE will credit, under one evaluation factor, a transmission project that will contribute to national or subnational goals to lower electricity sector greenhouse gas emissions, Dennis said. This would favor transmission that delivers renewable power, or perhaps that eases congestion on other lines that do so.
Other evaluation criteria include improving grid resilience and reliability; using technology to achieve those goals or to enhance capacity or efficiency; facilitating interregional transfer capacity; and meeting policy priorities around community engagement, jobs, and ensuring that project benefits are distributed to disadvantaged communities.
DOE will confer with regional transmission organizations as it evaluates which transmission projects to support.
DOE’s Transmission Facilitation Program is one of several programs run by DOE’s Grid Deployment Office, said Maria Robinson, director of the office, on the webinar. The office was created, she said, thanks to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act.
Further information on the request for proposals is available from the program’s web page.
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