U.S. Energy Department announces $3.5 billion to shore up electric grid

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White House Infrastructure Implementation Coordinator Mitch Landrieu and Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm announced $3.46 billion to fund 58 projects across 44 states to strengthen electric grid resilience and reliability across America.

As part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, these projects will leverage more than $8 billion in federal and private investments. The funding is managed by the Grid Resilience and Innovation Partnerships (GRIP) Program, and is intended to prepare the grid for extreme weather as well as to ensure delivery of affordable, clean electricity to all communities across the nation.

All of the projects support the Justice40 initiative, which has a goal of delivering 40% of overall benefits of federal climate, clean energy, affordable and sustainable housing, clean water, and other investments to marginalized, disadvantaged communities that are overburdened by pollution. The funding will help bring more than 35 GW of new renewable energy online, invest in 400 microgrids, and maintain and create good paying union jobs. Most of the projects (86%) contain either labor union partnerships or will involve collective bargaining agreements.

“Extreme weather events fueled by climate change will continue to strain the nation’s aging transmission systems, but President Biden’s Investing in America agenda will ensure America’s power grid can provide reliable, affordable power,” said U.S Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “Today’s announcement represents the largest-ever direct investment in critical grid infrastructure, supporting projects that will harden systems, improve energy reliability and affordability—all while generating union jobs for highly skilled workers.”

The announcement of up to $3.46 billion in funding represents a first round of selections under the broader $10.5 billion GRIP Program, also part of the Investing in America agenda.

Spencer Pederson, senior vice president, Public Affairs National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) sees these awards as a major step in grid modernization and resilience:

This funding targets transmission grid expansion, enabling integration of renewable energy technologies like wind and solar, hardens the grid to make it more resilient against extreme weather, and will help build microgrids to serve critical facilities like hospitals and emergency facilities. All of these elements have a place in NEMA’s vision for a more electrified and connected economy and actions like these from DOE move us closer to realizing this ambition that benefits us all.

The selections announced today for award negotiations under the GRIP Program include projects in the following states:

  • Georgia – The Georgia Environmental Finance Authority and the Family of Companies that supports the Georgia electric cooperatives will collaborate on a transformative project to benefit communities across the state through increased reliability and lower costs with an estimated investment of more than $507 million. The project will make a smart grid infrastructure update, through investments in battery storage, local microgrids, and grid reliability, as well as new transmission lines. With a focus on remote, hard-to-reach, and historically underinvested communities, the project will improve service reliability, decrease the frequency and duration of power outages, reduce energy bill strain on low-income households, and create more than 140 construction jobs.
  • Louisiana – Two projects will focus on better positioning disadvantaged communities to withstand extreme weather. The state will launch a strategic initiative with 15 government entities, energy companies, and community and academic institutions to enhance statewide emergency response operations by deploying a network of Community Resilience Hubs powered by distributed energy resources microgrids. Under a separate project, Entergy New Orleans will enhance the local grid’s resilience to severe weather, including hardening existing transmission lines and distribution systems to reduce outage frequency and duration. It will also deploy a battery backup project that will reduce energy bills for disadvantaged communities.
  • Michigan – In Detroit and its surrounding service territory, DTE Energy. will deploy adaptive networked microgrids, which have the capability to adapt to changing energy demands and supply conditions in real-time, especially after extreme weather events. The microgrids will rely on new grid sensing and fault location devices and communication tools that will enhance reliability and reduce the number and total duration of outages in the microgrid areas.
  • Pennsylvania – In southeastern Pennsylvania, PECO Energy Company will increase grid reliability and resilience through substation flood mitigation, upgrading underground monitoring and control technologies, deploying battery systems for backup power, replacing aging infrastructure, and installing advanced conductors to increase grid capacity. In eastern Pennsylvania, PPL Electric Utilities Corporation will integrate distributed energy resources and enable real-time grid control to reduce outage duration and frequency, create more than 200 new jobs, and boost electric service reliability for more than 800,000 people. In Pittsburgh, Duquesne Light Company will enhance system capacity to unlock clean energy generation and meet targets established in the State’s Climate Action Plan while also mitigating customer cost increases, growing high-quality jobs and training, and boosting equitable access to clean energy.
  • Oregon – Multiple projects across Oregon will connect vast amounts of clean energy to customers and create good-paying union jobs. The Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs Reservation of Oregon and Portland General Electric (PGE) will upgrade transmission capacity and connect PGE customers with the currently isolated renewable resources east of the Cascade Mountains, including those on the Warm Springs Reservation—building a bridge to up to 1,800 MW of carbon-free solar resources. PGE will also deploy an artificial intelligence-enabled, grid-edge computing platform to improve the connection of distributed energy resources, such as solar, as well as informed modeling that can predict pre-outage conditions and assist real-time decisions. PacifiCorp will update infrastructure for fire resistance and prevention in Oregon and neighboring states, reducing outages and risks, while also improving flood resilience and creating hundreds of training and employment opportunities in partnership with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW).

The funding will also support several projects anchored by inter-regional collaboration that will expand transmission across multiple states. Examples include:

  • Joint Targeted Interconnection Queue Transmission Study Process and Portfolio (JTIQ) (Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, Minnesota, Missouri, and South Dakota)
  • Wildfire Assessment and Resilience for Networks (WARN) (Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wyoming)

Earlier this year, DOE announced $95 million in federal funds from the program to strengthen the grids in Hawaii so that they can better withstand severe weather-related events.

The Grid Deployment Office will hold an informational webinar on October 24 at 2:30 p.m. ET. Registration is required, register here.

Selection for award negotiations is not a commitment by DOE to issue an award or provide funding. Before funding is issued, DOE and the applicants will undergo a negotiation process, and DOE may cancel negotiations and rescind the selection for any reason during that time.

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