White House aims to boost power grid with grant program

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The launch of a $2.3 billion effort for states and tribes to revamp the national power grid is the latest White House push to bolster electricity use to modernize transportation infrastructure. .

The national power grid faces many challenges resulting from extreme weather conditions, insufficient transmission capacity to transfer electricity between regions, and aging transmission lines and transformers (70% are over 25 years old), according to the US Department of Energy.

The modernization and expansion of the transmission system will improve the reliability and resilience of the national power grid while facilitating the integration of clean energy sources.


“There is no doubt that a modernized network is the keystone of the president [Joe] Biden’s goal of a nation powered by clean, reliable, renewable energy,” Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said April 27 as she announced a new grant program under the Capital Investments Act and Infrastructure Employment (IIJA).

States and Tribal Nations must submit information, results, and possible progress measures on how they would reduce outages due to severe events or the health and safety risks resulting from such outages. Applicants should include goals and statistics on workforce engagement, high work standards, and quality job creation. The information, due June 2, will help the DOE structure its grant formula.

“A reliable and resilient electric grid is essential to withstand the impacts of climate change and to achieve President Biden’s goal of a national grid running on 100% clean electricity by 2035,” noted a press release from the DOE. The program, administered through the DOE’s new Building a Better Grid initiative, will help states and tribal nations with job-creating projects to provide clean, affordable and reliable energy.

It was launched with a request for information for public input on structuring a $2.3 billion formula grant program to strengthen and modernize the U.S. electric grid against wildfires, weather extremes and other natural disasters exacerbated by the climate crisis.

Working through multiple agencies, including the DOE and the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Biden administration is pursuing an agenda to achieve a carbon-free energy sector by 2035 and a net economy. zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

The DOE’s Building a Better Grid initiative has recognized that it will be impossible to have a reliable electrical system that depends on very high levels of renewable energy without doubling or tripling the size and scale of the US transmission system.

Meanwhile, Biden’s IIJA is investing more than $7 billion over the next five years in the electric vehicle battery supply chain and $7.5 billion to expand the nation’s charging network.

The DOE recently released a report on electric vehicle charging infrastructure for the last quarter of 2021, predicting that the rate of installation of public electric vehicle charging stations must more than double from the current average quarterly rate of 5,000 to reach Biden’s goal of 500,000 by 2030.

At the same time, the administration continues to remodel the country’s infrastructure and adopt clean fuel vehicles. The trucking industry received a boost March 7 from Granholm with the release of DOE research indicating that by 2030, nearly half of medium and heavy-duty trucks will be cheaper to buy, operate and maintain as zero emission vehicles than traditional diesel combustion vehicles. motor vehicles.

“The DOE is showing a clear path for trucking companies to switch from diesel to electric, which will help them reduce costs and pollution for their customers, while fighting climate change,” she said. .

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Among the findings of the 69-page study “Decarbonizing Medium- & Heavy-Duty On-Road Vehicles: Zero-Emission Vehicles Cost Analysis,” conducted by the DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, is that different energy sources will be more profitable for heavy vehicles. trucks according to the distances travelled.

Battery-electric trucks could be more competitive for small trucks before 2030 and heavy-duty trucks traveling less than 800 miles by 2035. a range of 500 miles by 2035.

Future analysis should be conducted to determine automakers’ ability to increase electric vehicle production and upgrade national grid infrastructure requirements for power and bulk power distribution systems, a noted the NREL.

Meanwhile, utility representatives and city government officials attended a webinar on April 28, “How the DOE and Utilities Can Work Together on IIJA Funding Initiatives,” hosted by TRC, a global consulting, engineering and construction management company.

Jigar Shah, director of the DOE’s Office of Lending Programs, said designing new business models for public-private partnerships will be important for the introduction of energy-efficient technologies, especially for electric vehicles.

“We’re talking about doubling or tripling the amount of sales that utilities are going to make through 2023. That’s how we’re going to decarbonize our economy by increasing the number of heat pumps and replacing gasoline with electricity and all these other things,” Shah said. “Business models have to say to utilities, ‘Well, here’s how we’re going to make money,’ and utilities have to say, ‘Well, here’s how we will structure our rates to ensure that you don’t break our systems Everyone must work together to ensure that each party’s needs are met.