The US Department of Energy (DOE) is awarding $3.46 billion in grants to upgrade the electric grid for renewable energy and shore up its resilience in the face of extreme weather.
Largest-ever investment in US grid upgrade
This is the first round of the DOE’s $10.5 billion Grid Resilience and Innovation Partnerships (GRIP) program, and the grant money comes from the Biden administration’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
There are 58 projects across 44 states, and the objective is to prevent blackouts and bring more than 35 gigawatts (GW) of new clean energy energy online. There are also investments in 400 microgrids, and three out of four projects will partner with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW).
Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm said in a call yesterday with reporters, “The grid, as it currently sits, is not equipped to handle all the new demand … we need it to be bigger, we need it to be stronger, we need it to be smarter, to bring all of these new projects online.”
Some grants will go toward grid resilience, such as at Hawaiian Electric, which includes wildfire prevention and mitigation efforts. There are smart grid grants that support such projects as Dominion Energy Virginia’s DER management capabilities. And there’s a grid innovation program that funds projects like Georgia Environmental Finance Authority’s regional grid improvement program, which is focusing on remote communities.
There are also interstate programs, such as the coordination of planning, design, and construction of five transmission projects across seven Midwest states.
After the release of the International Energy Agency’s groundbreaking grid study three days ago that called for rapid improvement and expansion of the global grid, this is good news.
The IEA called for strengthening grid interconnections, backing large-scale transmission projects, and embracing digitalization to ensure grids can adapt and withstand future challenges. The US’s GRIP program puts this urgent need into action. How quickly these projects will be deployed and completed remains to be seen; time is of the essence.
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