DOE announces launch of Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s grid modernization program, implements Peters’ POWER ON Act
January 12, 2022
WASHINGTON, D.C. —Today, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) launched the “Building a Better Grid” Initiative to carry out key transmission provisions in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and help upgrade and forge new high-capacity electric transmission lines nationwide. The program will work with community and industry stakeholders to identify national transmission needs and support the buildout of long-distance, high voltage transmission facilities. It will make the U.S. power grid more resilient to the impacts of climate change, increase access to affordable and reliable clean energy, create good-paying jobs across industry sectors, and is imperative to reaching President Biden’s goal of 100 percent clean electricity by 2035 and a zero-emissions economy by 2050.
Additionally, Building a Better Grid will implement Rep. Scott Peters’ (CA-52) POWER ON Act, which passed as part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Its implementation will improve permitting processes and boost community input to help build more transmission lines and deploy more renewable energy across the country.
“Too many Americans, including many Californians, have experienced the harsh consequences of power grid failures in the face of mounting extreme weather events due to climate change. The Department of Energy’s actions today will build a more secure, resilient, clean, and efficient energy system that our nation can rely on,” said Rep. Peters. “I applaud the DOE’s efforts and will continue my work in Congress to modernize and strengthen our national electric transmission system.”
More than 70 percent of the nation’s grid transmission lines and power transformers are over 25 years old, creating vulnerability. Extreme weather events like the Dixie Wildfire, Hurricane Ida, and the 2021 Texas Freeze have made it clear that America’s existing energy infrastructure will not endure the continuing impacts of extreme weather events spurred by climate change. Furthermore, renewable electricity growth is accelerating faster than ever. We will need more rapid buildout of electric transmission lines to ensure renewable power produced in remote locations can be transported to large population centers. The Building a Better Grid initiative will facilitate this buildout.
As outlined in a new Notice of Intent issued by the Department today, Building a Better Grid will support the development of nationally significant transmission projects and grid upgrades by:
- Engaging and collaborating early with states, tribal nations, and stakeholders to accelerate transmission deployment.
- Enhancing transmission planning to identify areas of greatest need such as high-priority national transmission needs and conducting longer-term national-scale transmission planning analysis.
- Deploying more than $20 billion in federal financing tools, including through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s new $2.5 billion Transmission Facilitation Program, $3 billion expansion of the Smart Grid Investment Grant Program, and more than $10 billion in grants for states, Tribes, and utilities to enhance grid resilience and prevent power outages, and through existing tools, including the more than $3 billion Western Area Power Administration Transmission Infrastructure Program, and a number of loan guarantee programs through the Loan Programs Office.
- Facilitating an efficient transmission permitting process by coordinating with federal agencies to streamline permitting, using public-private partnerships, and designating corridors.
- Performing transmission-related research and development to continue developing and reducing the costs of technologies that enable the transmission system to be used more efficiently.