Biden administration to provide $8.25 billion in loans for grid overhaul
Energize Weekly, May 5, 2021
In an effort to jumpstart the overhaul of the nation’s electric grid, the Biden administration has announced two new initiatives – including $8.25 billion in federal loans.
“After the Texas transmission debacle this winter, no one can doubt the need to invest in our electric grid,” Gina McCarthy, the administration’s national climate adviser, said in a statement.
President Joe Biden, in his first week in office, issued an executive order calling for the rebuilding of the nation’s infrastructure and the development of a clean-energy economy with the goal of delivering 100 percent clean energy to homes and businesses by 2035.
The Department of Energy (DOE) will offer up to $5 billion in loans to support “innovative” transmission projects and transmission projects owned by federally recognized tribal nations or Alaska Native Corporations.
Projects could include high-voltage direct current (HVDC) systems, transmission to connect offshore wind, and facilities sited along rail and highway routes.
In March, the Biden administration also set a target of adding 30 gigawatts of offshore wind generation to the grid by 2030.
Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said in a statement that meeting such a target makes addressing transmission challenges a key priority.
The Western Area Power Administration will provide $3.25 billion in low-cost debt financing for transmission and infrastructure projects that improve reliability and deliver affordable clean power in the Western U.S.
“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,” Granholm said. “This is a down payment on our efforts to modernize our transmission nationwide. These investments will make our power system more resilient.”
The Department of Transportation also announced new guidance to promote the use of existing highway rights-of-way (ROW) to ease the siting of transmission lines.
“These uses of the highway ROW, including the development of renewable energy projects, enable breakthrough transportation technology related to electrification and connected and autonomous vehicles,” the guidance said.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a statement, “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.”
Americans for a Clean Energy Grid, a non-profit advocacy group, issued a report last week identifying 22 high-voltage transmission projects across the U.S. that could be ready to move forward.
“These shovel-ready infrastructure projects can be a significant driver of domestic job creation and economic development,” the report said. “We estimate that the transmission investment itself can create around 600,000 jobs, while the wind and solar deployment enabled by the lines would create an additional 640,000 jobs.”