Across the country, the electric grid connects 145 million households and businesses. But many parts of the nation’s grid are over a century old and in dire need of upgrades. Last year, the United States experienced 18 separate natural disasters that resulted in millions of American families losing power. These outages hurt the economy – the Department of Energy estimates that power outages cost American businesses $150 billion annually. Additionally, increased transmission is necessary to enable more clean energy that will reduce home energy costs and cut emissions. Now more than ever, it is critical to invest in a clean, reliable electric grid – to ensure that communities don’t lose power when a major storm hits, to lower energy costs for hardworking families, and to achieve President Biden’s goal to deliver 100% clean electricity by 2035.
That’s why President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, a key pillar of Bidenomics, is delivering the largest electric grid infrastructure investment in history – more than $30 billion from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act. Through this historic investment in America’s electric grid, the Biden-Harris Administration is catalyzing development of thousands of miles of new and upgraded transmission lines that will reduce electricity costs for hardworking families and small businesses, prevent power outages in the face of extreme weather made worse by the climate crisis, strengthen America’s energy security, create good-paying jobs, and drive innovation and deployment of renewable energy technologies.
As part of this unprecedented commitment, the Department of Energy today announced a new $1.3 billion commitment in three transmission lines crossing six states – Arizona, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Utah, and Vermont – to deliver affordable, reliable power to households across the country, creating more than 13,000 direct and indirect high-quality local jobs – many of them union jobs. Additionally, to ensure that transmission buildout is done efficiently, the Department of Energy today released the final National Transmission Needs Study, which provides insight into where the grid – and American communities – would benefit from increased transmission, by assessing current and anticipated future capacity constraints and congestion on the Nation’s electric grid.
This announcement comes on the heels of the nearly $3.5 billion investmentannounced last week by the Department of Energy to strengthen grid reliability and resilience across 44 states, sparking a combined public-private investment of $8 billion, and bringing more than 35 gigawatts of new renewable energy online—enough to power about 30 million households. The 58 new projects supported by this investment will create and maintain good-paying and union jobs, including through labor partnerships with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. In addition, the Department of Energy has recently announced more than $748 million in formula funding to states, territories, and tribes through the Grid Resilience State and Tribal Formula Grants program to strengthen and modernize America’s power grid against wildfires, extreme weather, and other natural disasters that are exacerbated by the climate crisis.
Through these investments, the Biden-Harris Administration is working to:
Expand capacity and unlock renewable energy resources: Electrifying homes, buildings, and vehicles will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reducing costs.
- The Joint Targeted Interconnection Queue Transmission Study Process and Portfolio (JTIQ) will coordinate the planning and construction of transmission projects across seven Midwest states—Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, Minnesota, Missouri, and South Dakota. This project is receiving up to $464 million to unlock approximately 30 gigawatts of renewable generation, lower energy costs, and enhance community engagement and workforce development.
- 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 megawatts of carbon-free solar resources.
- The Southline Project will connect wind power in New Mexico to cities in Arizona to meet burgeoning demand for clean energy.
- The Twin States Clean Energy Link Project will connect to existing transmission lines to allow clean energy from Canada to reach New England, and vice versa.
- The Cross-Tie Project will facilitate the delivery of renewable energy in the West between Idaho, Wyoming, and the Midwest to Nevada and Utah.
Reduce the frequency and duration of power outages: Investments in grid hardening—like strengthening critical transmission lines, hardening electric poles with stronger materials, and improving flood mitigation—will ensure that communities have power when natural disaster strikes and that power outages do not last long when they do occur. Recently announced investments will also support more than 400 microgrids, which can continue to operate if the main grid is affected by an extreme weather event.
- In southeastern Pennsylvania, PECO Energy Company will increase grid reliability and resilience through substation flood mitigation, upgrading monitoring systems, deploying battery systems for backup power, replacing aging infrastructure, and installing advanced conductors to increase grid capacity. These investments will decrease power outages and provide energy resources for faster system recover and response.
- In Detroit and surrounding communities, DTE Energy will deploy adaptive networked microgrids, which will adapt to changing energy demands and supply conditions in real-time, especially after extreme weather events. The microgrids will have new sensing and communication tools that will enhance reliability and reduce the number and total duration of outages in the microgrid areas.
Mitigate risk of wildfire: By investing in projects that move overhead power lines that are threatened by high winds or heavy snow, removing hazard trees, and making technology-based upgrades and improvements, utilities can better predict when and where there are high-risk conditions for wildfires, better detect wildfires earlier on, and reduce the need to proactively shut off power in regions that are at-risk for wildfires.
- Hawaiian Electric will use up to $95 million to harden electric grids across Hawaii, which includes wildfire mitigation efforts like undergrounding power lines, removing hazard trees, and installing monitoring systems for outage notifications and smoke detection.
- Holy Cross Energy, in conjunction with NRECA Research, will launch a wildfire mitigation project with 39 small, rural, not-for-profit electric co-ops in areas that are at high risk for wildfires. The project will enable members to harden their networks by deploying fire-resistant grid infrastructure, undergrounding lines, or upgrading overhead lines to reduce risk of catastrophic wildfires and to increase wildfire resilience.
Additionally, the Biden-Harris Administration is accelerating transmission by modernizing permitting, advancing next-generation planning, and more. Key actions include:
- Breaking Ground on Ten Major Transmission Projects: Breaking Ground on Ten Major Transmission Projects: Since 2021, ten high-capacity transmission projects have begun construction, expected to connect 19.5 GW of new generation to the grid and representing over $22 billion in investment. Federal permitting progress by the Biden-Harris Administration helped achieve this milestone. The Department of the Interior has successfully shepherded several major transmission projects on public lands through environmental reviews to approvals including: Gateway South, Gateway West, Ten West, TransWestExpress, and the SunZia Southwest Transmission Project.
- Accelerating Federal Permitting: The Department of Energy proposed a rule to establish the Coordinated Interagency Transmission Authorization and Permits (CITAP) Program to accelerate federal permitting of transmission infrastructure, with a two-year timeline to improve efficiency while ensuring meaningful stakeholder engagement. This proposal follows an MOU between nine federal agencies to facilitate timely, responsible, and equitable transmission permitting – part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s Permitting Action Plan.
- Launching Additional Transmission Programs: The U.S. Department of Agriculture opened applications for the Empowering Rural America (New ERA) program, with $9.7 billion from the IRA for rural electric cooperatives to help rural Americans benefit from clean, affordable and reliable energy – including by improving transmission systems. Additionally, the Department of Energy is currently accepting applications through the new Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) funded Transmission Siting and Economic Development (TSED) program. This new initiative is designed to overcome challenges to expanding transmission capacity while also supporting communities along major new and upgraded lines. The Department of Energy is accepting concept papers through November 17, 2023 at 5 p.m. ET.
- Improving Interconnection Process: The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued a final rule to improve the process of connecting energy projects to the transmission grid, with reforms to address long wait times for interconnection by helping ready-to-go projects get reviewed more quickly and in more efficient clusters, and by increasing consideration of advanced technologies that can help solve interconnection challenges.
- Expanding Financing for Transmission Reconductoring: The Department of Energy issued guidance for how $250 billion in loan guarantee authority can support Energy Infrastructure Reinvestment Projects, specifying eligibility for transmission reconductoring projects that replace the cores of existing transmission lines in order to increase capacity without requiring permitting of a new route.
- Advancing Offshore Wind Transmission: The Department of Energy and the Department of the Interior issued a comprehensive action plan to connect the first generation of Atlantic offshore wind projects to the electric grid and increase transmission over the next several decades. This plan lays out steps to collaborate across jurisdictions on transmission planning, technological development, economic support, and siting and permitting. The Department of Energy also established a new Tribal Nation Offshore Wind Transmission Technical Assistance Program, launched a West Coast Offshore Wind Transmission Study, and initiated a Gulf of Mexico Offshore Wind Transmission Literature Review and Gaps Analysis.