The White House and the Department of Energy (DOE) are soliciting applications from utility companies, state governments, and tribal nations to create a stronger energy grid. The DOE has announced that it is ready to use $13 billion in funding for the much-needed energy upgrade.
$10.5 billion of that funding has been sourced through the $1.2 trillion infrastructure law that passed in 2021, the DOE said in a recent announcement. Another $2.5 billion is available through the Transmission Facilitation Program. Utility companies, state agencies, and tribes must submit the first part of the application by mid-December, the announcement explained.
A reinforced grid would mean cleaner energy sources, and fewer power outages during and after emergencies, according to the announcement. And it’s a much-needed improvement—almost 70 percent of the country’s transmission lines are older than 25 years old, according to the White House. Increased grid capacity will also support more affordable energy to meet new demands on the grid—such as charging electric vehicles and heating electricity-powered homes.
During a press call last week, White House senior adviser and infrastructure coordinator Mitch Landrieu pointed out that recent emergencies are a major motivator for seeking funding applications. “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 said, according to The Hill. “Experts estimate that we need to triple the capacity of our electrical vehicle transmission system by 2050.”
Climate change-fueled extreme weather has shut off power for millions of Americans this year. In early September, a heat wave across Southern California threatened power outages for millions of residents. Hurricane Ian battered Florida’s grid at the end of September. The infrastructural damage was so extensive, more than 2.5 million state residents went without power in the first few days after the storm. A reinforced grid could mean fewer households waiting around in the dark for days.