US Department of Energy announces $8.25B for transmission grid modernization

Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced the availability of up to $8.25 billion in loans from its Loan Programs Office (LPO) and the Western Area Power Administration (WAPA) for efforts to expand and improve the nation’s transmission grid.

The money is available to support the Biden Administration’s commitment to modernize the nation’s power grid and infrastructure and deliver 100% clean energy to businesses and homeowners by 2035.

“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,” said Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm.

“This is a down payment on our efforts to modernize our transmission nationwide–but we need the American Jobs Plan to complete them. These investments will make our power system more resilient against threats and more reliable as we increase our clean energy capacity, creating thousands of jobs in the process.”

Biden’s American Jobs Plan calls for historic investments to modernize and upgrade the country’s power grid, improving resilience against cyber threats, natural disasters, and physical attacks.

Related: Here’s a short summary of energy industry gains through Biden’s infrastructure plan

DOE has two separate financing streams available to assist with transmission projects:

Up to $5 billion in loan guarantees from LPO. LPO’s Title 17 Innovative Energy Loan Guarantee Program and Tribal Energy Loan Guarantee Program allow DOE to support innovative transmission projects along with transmission projects owned by federally recognized tribal nations or Alaska Native Corporations. This includes high-voltage direct current (HVDC) systems, transmission to connect offshore wind, and facilities sited along rail and highway routes. 

Up to $3.25 billion from WAPA’s Transmission Infrastructure Program (TIP) revolving loan program. TIP is a unique federal debt financing program, congressionally mandated to support transmission and related infrastructure projects that facilitate the delivery of reliable, affordable, clean power in the Western United States. Applicants can leverage WAPA’s technical transmission expertise for project development support and access low-cost capital.

Details on loan guarantees through LPO and application instructions can be found here. Details on loan eligibility through TIP and application instructions can be found here.

Use of Public Highways

In related news, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg announced the Department of Transportation’s (DOT’s) commitment to facilitate the use of public highways and other transportation rights-of-way to speed the siting and permitting of transmission lines.

DOT issued guidance that will help state DOTs host transmission lines, build renewable energy projects, deploy broadband, and support electric vehicle charging along highway rights-of-way. In addition to accelerating the expansion and modernization of the electric grid and other important services, leveraging these public lands adjacent to our transportation systems can create revenue opportunities that will lower state costs, reduce transportation maintenance expenses, cut greenhouse gas and other pollutant emissions, promote energy security and diversity, and foster the creation of good-paying local jobs. 

“This announcement reflects the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to use resources across the government to combat climate change,” said Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “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.”

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The Clarion Energy Content Team is made up of editors from various publications, including POWERGRID International, Power Engineering, Renewable Energy World, Hydro Review, Smart Energy International, and Power Engineering International. Contact the content lead for this publication at Jennifer.Runyon@ClarionEvents.com.

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