The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) on April 27 released a request for information (RFI) seeking public input on the structure of a $2.5 billion formula grant program to strengthen and modernize America’s power grid against wildfires, extreme weather, and other natural disasters.
The new program was established by the bipartisan infrastructure law and will be administered through DOE’s new Building a Better Grid Initiative.
The infrastructure law’s program, “Preventing Outages and Enhancing the Resilience of the Electric Grid,” will provide grants based on a formula that includes, among other things, population size, land area, probability and severity of disruptive events, and a locality’s historical expenditures on mitigation efforts.
Grid modernization activities could include:
- Utility pole upkeep and removal of trees and other vegetation affecting grid performance
- Undergrounding electrical equipment
- Relocating or reconductoring powerlines
- Improvements to make the grid resistant to extreme weather
- Increasing fire resistant components
- Implementing monitoring, controls, and advanced modeling for real-time situational awareness
- Integrating distributed energy resources like microgrids and energy storage
The new program will ask applicants to describe the concrete outcomes they intend to seek and commit to specific progress metrics like reducing or shortening outages from severe events or by reducing risks to health and safety from such outages.
Applicants will also be asked to present objectives and metrics for workforce engagement, high labor standards, and quality job creation.
DOE said the program will award funding to a diverse set of populations, including underserved and disadvantaged communities.
The RFI seeks feedback from states and Tribal Nations to inform DOE’s structuring of the formula grants. Specific feedback is requested about anticipated application challenges, technical assistance support, and other critical data sources.
DOE is requesting feedback on the formula grant program Notice of Intent, draft application and award requirements, and draft award formula allocation. Comments must be received by June 27 and can be submitted by emailing [email protected]
A public webinar will be held on May 5, 2022, from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. ET to provide additional information. Click here to register for the webinar.