President Biden is catalyzing the development of thousands of miles of new and upgraded transmission lines that will reduce electricity bills for families and businesses, prevent blackouts in the face of extreme weather, and create high-paying clean energy jobs.
Today, the Department of Energy (DOE) announced that it has closed first-round applications for competitive grants under the Grid Resilience and Innovation Partnership Programs, totaling $10.5 billion in available funding, as well as the $2.5 billion Transmission Facilitation Programs are open. These programs, funded by the President’s bipartisan Infrastructure Act, collectively represent the largest single direct federal investment in critical transmission and distribution infrastructure.
An estimated 70 percent of the country’s transmission lines are over 25 years old, and this aging infrastructure leaves American communities, critical infrastructure, and economic interests vulnerable. New and upgraded transmission lines are delivering power to where it’s needed, whether that’s delivering wind and solar power to cities and communities across the country, or transferring power from one region to another that needs it in the face of storms, heat waves and others Extremes needed weather. An expanded transmission system is also critical to cost-effectively meeting the President’s goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 50-52% below 2005 levels by 2030 and achieving 100% clean electricity by 2035.
Today’s announcement builds on the Biden-Harris administration’s ongoing efforts to accelerate the rollout of high-capacity transmission lines, including:
- Securing historical funding for transmission and grid expansion: The president’s bipartisan infrastructure bill marks the largest investment yet in modernizing America’s power grid. In addition, the Inflation Mitigation Act provides nearly $3 billion in transmission financing, including $2 billion that will free up additional billions in federal loans for projects designated by the Secretary of Energy as being in the national interest. The Inflation Reduction Act also provides significant lending authority for the DOE Loan Programs Office and funding for the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Rural Utilities Service programs that can support grid modernization.
- Authorization of new interstate transmission lines: The administration has also initiated the approval of key transmission lines that traverse federally administered lands. In 2022, three major transmission projects received final planning permission from the Home Office, including:
- Advance review of major projects: The Home Office has made great strides in environmental assessments for several new transmission lines. Key milestones include:
- Initiate Review for Greenlink West North to South Nevada Transmission Project with Potential to Unleash Up to 5,000 MW of Clean Energy;
- Initiation of Review for Utah-Nevada 500 kV Cross-Tie Transmission Project With Potential to Unleash Up to 1,500 MW of Clean Energy;
- Released a draft Environmental Impact Statement for the SunZia Southwest Transmission Project, a major milestone for two lines that could carry up to 4,500 MW of clean power from New Mexico to Arizona and California markets.
- Improving Federal Licensing Efficiency: As part of the administration’s Permissions Action Plan — a strategy to strengthen and accelerate state permitting and environmental reviews for a number of infrastructure projects — agencies are working together to promote informed and timely reviews of transmission projects. The Departments of Home Affairs, Agriculture, Defense and Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency signed a memorandum of understanding to improve coordination and prioritize review of state-level renewable energy projects and the transmission lines needed to support those projects.
- Launch of the “Building a Better Grid” initiative: To mobilize new funds and improve collaboration between all levels of government, industry, unions, local communities, environmental justice organizations and other stakeholders, the government launched the Building a Better Grid initiative, with a focus on long-distance high-voltage transmission lines. This initiative will be managed by the Department of Energy’s new Grid Deployment Office, which will support the development of new transmission lines and a more resilient grid through new and upgraded distribution facilities to ensure all communities have access to reliable and affordable electricity.
- Next Generation Transmission Scheduling Support: The Department of Energy is conducting a national transmission planning study to help identify pathways for the necessary large-scale deployment of transmission systems that meet regional and national interests. The National Transmission Needs Study also identifies current and anticipated future capacity constraints and bottlenecks in the country’s electrical transmission grid. These efforts include strong engagement with industry stakeholders, communities, and regional and local governments.
- Making federal funding more accessible: The Department of Energy recently created the Grid and Transmission Programs Conductor to provide state and local governments, tribal and territorial governments, utility and industry partners and other stakeholders with information about the application process and deadlines for a number of federal funding opportunities totaling billions of dollars Grants, loans and other forms of funding. Today, The Conductor released a new interactive feature for public and private partners to make it easier for them to identify which funding opportunities are right for them.
- Further development of offshore wind transmission: The Department of Energy and the Department of Home Affairs, in consultation with key stakeholders, are developing recommendations for offshore wind transmission planning and development. This work includes an Atlantic offshore wind transmission study and an analysis of West Coast offshore wind transmission needs. The Inflation Mitigation Act provides $100 million to support transmission planning, modeling and analysis, including offshore wind transmission.
- Supporting other levels of government: The government is taking a wide range of steps to help state, tribal, territorial, and local governments advance transmission projects. For example, the Department of Transportation has issued guidelines to help government agencies deploy transmission lines along existing freeway ramps. In addition, the Inflation Reduction Act provides $760 million in grants to site authorities and other state, local or tribal government agencies to facilitate site selection for interstate transmission projects.
- Accelerate innovative solutions: As part of the government’s Net-Zero Game Changers initiative, one of five near-term priorities is research and development in support of a net-zero power grid and electrification – including advanced transmission and distribution design and operations. Ongoing efforts include the Department of Energy’s Transmission Reliability Program and Energy Storage Program, with support from National Laboratories, to advance the research and development needed for the power system of the future.