Departments of Energy and Transportation Announce New Actions to Upgrade America’s Power Infrastructure — Creating Jobs, Increasing Reliability, and Combating Climate Change

Today, the White House is making announcements that underscore the Administration’s commitment to accelerating the needed expansion and modernization of America’s power infrastructure to build a more reliable electric grid, create good-paying, union jobs, and deliver clean American energy to American businesses and homeowners. In particular, the Department of Energy is announcing new financial tools to help build high-voltage electric transmission lines, and the Department of Transportation is issuing new guidance that will enable the use of existing rights-of-way to facilitate the siting of transmission lines. An independent analysis, also released today, confirms the importance of investing in our electricity grid. It identifies more than 20 major transmission projects that are poised to move forward, potentially creating more than 600,000 new transmission-related jobs, and an additional 640,000 jobs from new clean energy generation projects enabled by the new transmission lines.   

The announcements reflect the Administration’s ongoing commitment to building a more sustainable and resilient future while tackling the climate crisis and creating jobs. As National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy noted: “After the Texas transmission debacle this winter, no one can doubt the need to invest in our electric grid. The steps that the Departments of Energy and Transportation are taking today, when combined with the grid investments outlined in the American Jobs Plan, will turbocharge the building of major new electricity transmission lines that will generate new jobs and power our economy for years to come.”
 
ENHANCING AMERICA’S GRID NETWORK AND UNLOCKING OUR NATION’S CLEAN ENERGY RESOURCES

Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm is announcing the availability of two critical financing tools that can facilitate the construction of high-voltage transmission lines to enhance the reach, reliability, and resilience of our electricity and unlock more of our nation’s clean energy resources.

  • The Western Area Power Administration Transmission Infrastructure Program’s $3.25 billion fund is open for business and accepting applications that applicants can leverage for project development support and access to low-cost capital for transmission projects that will unlock renewable energy in the West.
  • DOE’s Loan Programs Office is seeking applications for up to $5 billion in loan guarantees to support innovative transmission projects along with transmission projects owned by federally recognized tribal nations or Alaska Native Corporations. This includes high-voltage direct current (HVDC) systems, transmission to connect offshore wind, and facilities sited along rail and highway routes.

“DOE is making financing available for projects that improve resilience and expand transmission capacity across the electrical grid, so we can reliably move clean energy from places where it’s produced to places where it’s needed most,” said Energy Secretary Granholm. “This is a down payment on our efforts to modernize our transmission nationwide—but we need the American Jobs Plan to complete them. These investments will make our power system more resilient against threats and more reliable as we increase our clean energy capacity, creating thousands of jobs in the process.”

LEVERAGING TRANSPORTATION TO CREATE REVENUE, LOWER COSTS, AND SUPPORT LOCAL ECONOMIES

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg is announcing the Department of Transportation’s commitment to facilitate the use of public highways and other transportation rights-of-way to speed the siting and permitting of transmission lines. To advance this new opportunity, the Department of Transportation is issuing guidance that will help State DOTs host transmission lines, build renewable energy projects, deploy broadband, and support electric vehicle charging along highway rights-of-way. In addition to accelerating the expansion and modernization of the electric grid and other important services, leveraging these public lands adjacent to our transportation systems can create revenue opportunities that will lower state costs, reduce transportation maintenance expenses, cut greenhouse gas and other pollutant emissions, promote energy security and diversity, and foster the creation of good-paying local jobs. 

“This announcement reflects the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to use resources across the government to combat climate change,” said Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “Our new guidance will help states use their rights-of-way to expand clean energy, lower costs, and create good-paying jobs in their communities.  Today’s actions can provide a model for our private partners, like railroads, to do the same.”

STAKEHOLDER REACTIONS

INDEPENDENT ANALYSIS ON BUILDING TRANSMISSION LINES AND CREATING JOBS

Today, independent analysts, the Americans for a Clean Energy Grid, issued a report entitled: “Transmission Projects Ready to Go: Plugging into America’s Untapped Renewable Resources.” The report estimates that with financing and siting tools such as those advanced by the American Jobs Plan, more than 20 transmission projects are positioned to move from an advanced planning stage into construction, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs and potentially unlocking around 60,000 megawatts of new clean energy capacity in the U.S.

  • The “Ready to Go” report estimates that advancing the 22 high-voltage transmission projects identified in the report would trigger $33 billion in investment and create around 600,000 new jobs, including 240,000 direct jobs plus 360,000 indirect and induced jobs. The wind and solar deployment enabled by this investment could create an additional 640,000 jobs, bringing the total job creation benefit to around 1,240,000 jobs.

BROAD STAKEHOLDER COALITION BACKS INVESTMENT IN AMERICA’S GRID

A broad group of states, companies and advocates also announced today the formation of a Grid Investments Advisory Council that is backing the expansion and modernization of the grid, with a special focus on the large-scale deployment of smart grid technologies that will increase capacity while building flexibility and resilience into our national grid. Chaired by the President of the New York Power Authority, the Advisory Council includes leaders from the private and public sectors, drawn from all part of the country and representing the electric utility industry, environmental groups, vendors, labor unions and other key stakeholders.

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