The U.S. Department of Energy on Aug. 29 announced a funding opportunity of up to $300 million in grants for states, tribes, and local governments to accelerate and strengthen electric transmission siting and permitting processes.
The announcement of $300 million for transmission siting and economic development is the first tranche available of this $760 million program established by the Inflation Reduction Act.
Administered by DOE's Grid Deployment Office, the Transmission Siting and Economic Development grant program “is a new initiative designed to overcome state and local challenges to expanding transmission capacity while also supporting communities along major new and upgraded lines,” DOE said.
The grant program will provide financial support to state, tribal, and local entities that are responsible for issuing the permits needed to move forward with critical electric transmission projects.
The program can fund studies, modeling, environmental planning, and analysis to assess alternatives, better inform decision making, and reduce the time it takes to process applications.
The program can also support engagement with members of the public, including tribal, rural and disadvantaged communities, and facilitate participation in regulatory proceedings at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and other regulatory agencies, and other activities as approved by the Secretary of Energy.
The grant program will also provide financial support to economic development projects in local communities impacted by new transmission development.
Within the $300 million funding opportunity announcement, grants are available to state, tribal, and local government applicants to support engagement, economic development, and other benefits in communities that may be affected by the construction and operation of interstate or offshore transmission projects.
Community-based projects can include energy investments such as resilient microgrids, renewable power integration, or electric vehicle charging infrastructure; support for essential community facilities for public safety, healthcare, education, and improved transit; or encouraging community togetherness by investing in community centers and creating green spaces.
Funds can also be used to support a growing workforce with job training and apprenticeship programs. Communities are invited to submit unique projects suited to local needs.
While transmission developers are not eligible for grants, they can be key partners, DOE said. “For example, they might work with siting and permitting agencies to propose innovative solutions to improve cross-jurisdictional coordination, strengthen permitting processes, and resolve permitting bottlenecks, among other things.” The grant program is not intended to replace developer-funded community benefits programs.
DOE requires applicants to express an interest in applying for funds by submitting concept papers no later than October 31, 2023 at 5 pm EDT. Full applications will be due April 5, 2024 at 5 pm EDT.
DOE will hold an informational webinar on September 14, 2023 at 2 pm EDT. Registration is required.