The Department of Energy (DOE) last week opened the application process for a $2.3 billion grant program for states, Tribal nations, and territories designed to strengthen and modernize the power grid against wildfires, extreme weather, and other natural disasters exacerbated by the climate crisis.
The so-called formula grant program will distribute up to $2.3 billion over five years and 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.
Grant priority will be given to “projects that generate the greatest community benefit providing clean, affordable, and reliable energy to everyone, everywhere, anytime,” the DOE said.
Grid resilience activities that qualify under the program 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, and
- Integrating distributed energy resources like microgrids and energy storage.
The DOE said it would give priority to projects that aim to generate the greatest community benefit in reducing the likelihood and consequences of blackouts and power shutdowns because of extreme weather or other disruptive events like cyberattacks. Projects should also seek to create “good-paying union jobs with a focus on high labor standards and the free and fair chance for workers to join a union,” the DOE said.
The DOE also noted that applicants will be asked to describe the concrete outcomes they intend to seek, and commit to specific progress metrics, such as reducing or shortening outages from severe events or reducing risks to health and safety from such outages.
The application deadline is Sept. 30.
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law established the Preventing Outages and Enhancing the Resilience of the Electric Grid program, which is administered through DOE’s Building a Better Grid Initiative. The program aims to move the nation closer to the Biden Administration’s goal of a national grid run on 100 percent clean electricity by 2035.