The U.S. Dept. of Energy is seeking input before it launches a $2.3-billion grant program for power grid resilience funded under the new federal infrastructure spending law. It will provide up to $459 million annually over five years to states and tribes to help fund projects to modernize transmission systems and strengthening them against hazards such as extreme weather, wildfires and other disasters.
Officials say U.S. power outages tied to severe weather have doubled over the past 20 years, and both the frequency and length of failures have hit their highest levels since tracking began in 2013.
State and tribal governments that receive funding through the program can allocate the money to entities such as electricity generators and electric grid operators for various projects that include hardening power lines, moving them underground, adding weatherization and fire-resistance technologies, and replacement of old overhead conductors.
Funds may be used for construction of distributed energy resources such as microgrids, or toward battery-storage facility construction, but only if it would be used to enhance adaptive capacity during disruptive events. The grants will not fund construction of a new electric generating facility or cybersecurity investment.
DOE will administer the grant program its “Building a Better Grid” initiative, which is aimed at boosting development of upgraded high-capacity electricity transmission lines. In a statement, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said a modernized grid “is the linchpin” of President Joe Biden’s renewable energy goals.
The Biden administration also wants to promote grant fund equity by seeking recipients that include historically underrepresented communities.
DOE issued a request for information from potential grant recipients, asking them to share feedback on possible application challenges, technical support needed and data sources that may help inform the department’s award formula.
Draft documents about the program are available on the Energy Dept. website. The department will hold a public webinar about the program at 2 p.m. ET May 5 and will accept comments through June 27 via email at email@example.com.
Correction: The total funding for the grant program was revised on April 29 to $2.3 billion from $2.5 billion based on corrected information provided by the U.S. Energy Dept.