White House announces $13 billion in grid resilience funds

Source: By BY ZACK BUDRYK, The Hill • Posted: Sunday, November 20, 2022

FILE—Solar panels sit on rooftops at a housing development in Folsom, Calif., Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020. California regulators on Thursday, Nov 10, 2022 proposed changes to the state’s residential solar market aimed at encouraging more at-home battery systems that can help the electrical grid rely less on fossil fuels in the evenings, especially during heat waves. The state has the nation’s largest rooftop solar market with panels on about 1.5 million nomes, according to the California Public Utilities Commission. . (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)

The Biden administration on Friday morning announced $13 billion in funds to modernize the U.S. power grid using allocations from the bipartisan infrastructure law.

The funds will include $10.5 billion in competitive grants and another $2.5 billion through the Transmission Facilitation Program; they represent the biggest federal investment in transmission and distribution in U.S. history, White House senior adviser and infrastructure coordinator Mitch Landrieu told reporters on a press call Thursday.

Department of Energy Grid Deployment Office Director Maria Robinson said the grant program will likely open to submissions with a deadline of February.

Landrieu alluded to numerous recent natural disasters and extreme weather events that have affected power grid infrastructure in recent years, such as the 2021 Dixie Wildfire in California, or the winter storms the same year that knocked out Texas’s self-contained grid.

“The funding we’re announcing today will help us build new transmission lines and expand the capacity of our power grid so that it can endure these natural disasters and meet the need of our booming clean energy economy,” he told reporters.

“Experts estimate that we need to triple the capacity of our electrical vehicle transmission system by 2050 to meet the demand of electric vehicles, wind, solar and more,” he added. “This is a critical step to doing exactly that.”

White House national climate adviser Ali Zaidi noted that the administration has also issued approvals for several interstate transmission lines that will span Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Arizona and California and unlock capacity of about six gigawatts.

Officials on the call also touted recent Biden administration efforts to improve grid resilience, such as a recent memorandum of understanding signed by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Interior, Agriculture, Energy and Defense departments to coordinate on streamlining permitting reviews for renewables on federal lands.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), meanwhile, has sought to bring energy permitting reform legislation to the floor of Congress. Officials on the call confirmed the White House continues to support permitting reform in general.