The USA Department of Energy (DOE) has selected dozens of projects across the country for potential funding totaling up to $3.46 billion to improve electricity system reliability against climate disruptions.
The amount, provisionally named to 58 projects across 44 states, would be the first rollout of the DOE’s Grid Resilience and Innovation Partnerships (GRIP) Program, the agency said in a press release Wednesday. The program is separate from the Grid Resilience State and Tribal Formula Grant Program, which has already awarded over $748 million to state and tribal grid resilience projects, according to a DOE news release September 28 announcing the latest cohort for the formula grants.
The GRIP projects “will help bring more than 35 gigawatts of new renewable energy online, invest in 400 microgrids, and maintain and create good-paying union jobs with three out of four projects partnering with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers—helping deliver on the Biden-Harris Administration’s ambitious climate agenda”, Wednesday’s announcement stated.
Energy Secretary Jennifer M Granholm said in a statement for the news release this is the “largest-ever direct investment in critical grid infrastructure” in the USA.
The country has set a goal of achieving a 100 percent clean electricity grid by 2035.
Efforts that qualify for GRIP include those that “modernize the electric grid to reduce impacts of natural disasters and extreme weather worsened by climate change; increase the flexibility, efficiency, and reliability of the electric power system with a particular focus on unlocking more solar, wind, and other clean energy and reducing faults that may lead to wildfires; and improve reliability by deploying innovative approaches to electricity transmission, storage, and distribution”, Wednesday’s announcement said.
In the first tranche, the Minnesota Commerce Department has been earmarked the biggest share with $464 million, under the GRIP Program’s “Grid Innovation Grants” subgroup. The amount for Minnesota state is meant for five transmission projects that would be built under an innovative process that “replaces the traditional interconnection study approach with a coordinated, long-range, interregional assessment that studies multiple projects at once, resulting in more regionally optimized transmission solutions and an innovative cost-share allocation approach”, according to a factsheet on the DOE website. Minnesota will spend a further $1.3 billion as the state government’s share of the projects’ costs.
Several grid innovation projects had the highest amount allocations among the selected projects, which are also grouped under “Grid Resilience Utility and Industry Grants” and “Smart Grid Grants”. The Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs Reservation of Oregon state could receive $250 million for a project to transfer renewable energy to the load centers of Portland General Electric Co., whose service areas are not rich with renewable energy sources, according to the DOE factsheet of the project.
Under the Grid Resilience Utility and Industry Grants, three companies—Consumers Energy, PECO Energy Co. and Xcel Energy Services Inc.—have been allocated $100 million each as the biggest potential recipients under this subgroup. Meant to serve “underinvested communities”, Consumers Energy’s project involves piloting “state-of-the art sensors to drive system resiliency”, as well as completing the lateral fusing of the public utility’s low-voltage distribution system, among others, according to the project’s factsheet on the DOE website.
Under the Smart Grid Grants, Commonwealth Edison Co. could receive $50 million for the development of “advanced communications and data analysis technologies to address enhanced coordination among innovative grid enhancements”, according to the DOE factsheet of the project. Several other projects have been earmarked $50 million as the top potential recipients under this subgroup.
Wednesday’s announcement of the GRIP Program said, “Funded by the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, these projects will leverage more than $8 billion in federal and private investments to deliver affordable, clean electricity to all Americans and ensure that communities across the nation have a reliable grid that is prepared for extreme weather worsened by the climate crisis”.
Both GRIP and the formula grants are part of more than $20 billion provided by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, or the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, to upgrade the USA’s power grid, the DOE said.
The potential GRIP recipients and the DOE now proceed to further “negotiations” before the awards could be finalized, according to the announcement.
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