The Department of Energy has launched the Building a Better Grid Initiative to accelerate the development of new power transmission lines. The initiative aims to upgrade the nation’s grid, connect more Americans to clean electricity, and reliably move clean electricity to where it is needed most. The initiative is a part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure bill that was signed into law in November.
Under the initiative, DOE will identify critical national transmission needs and support the buildout of long-distance, high-voltage transmission facilities as well as support transmission planning, financing mechanisms, transmission-related research and development, and efforts on energy justice.
DOE will deploy more than $20 billion in federal financing that includes more than $10 billion in grants to states, Tribes, and utilities to enhance grid resilience and prevent power outages. It will also coordinate with other agencies to streamline permitting for transmission infrastructure.
Seventy percent of the US grid’s transmission lines and power transformers are over 25 years old. There is also insufficient transmission capacity, especially for transmission that facilitates transfer of power across regions. The current grid is vulnerable to harsh weather and needs improved reliability.
Providing more transmission capacity in areas where it doesn’t exist today is essential for the integration of more large-scale renewable generation sources into the grid. The national goal of 100% clean electricity by 2035 is not just about decarbonizing the generation sources. A substantial upgrade to the transmission infrastructure is necessary and the Building a Better Grid Initiative is a major step in the right direction.
The big upgrade to the US power grid is kicking off
Photo, posted February 2, 2020, courtesy of Tony Webster via Flickr.
Earth Wise is a production of WAMC Northeast Public Radio.
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