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Distributed Energy Resources

New England States Seek Proposals Tied to Federal Grid Upgrade Funds

A coalition of New England states recently called for proposals to secure federal funding for regional collaboration on grid infrastructure.

The coalition, composed of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, the Maine Governor’s Energy Office, the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources, the New Hampshire Department of Energy, and the Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources, with support from the Vermont Department of Public Service, issued an Invitational Call for Innovative Project Design Concepts to solicit proposals for the second round of the Department of Energy’s Grid Innovation Program.

The states’ invitation requires a Community Benefits Plan that describes actions developers will take related to community engagement, workforce development, and diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility in keeping with the DOE’s goal to advance the interests of and opportunities for disadvantaged communities as energy infrastructure is developed across the nation.

The Grid Innovation Program, administered through the DOE’s $10.5 billion Grid Resilience and Innovation Partnerships Program that is funded through the 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, aims to fund projects that improve grid reliability and resilience using partnerships and advanced technologies. The deadline for submissions is October 20.

The Funding Opportunity Announcement for the second round of the Grid Innovation Program funding has not yet been announced. The New England states may issue a revised invitation after the DOE releases the FOA for the second round of GIP funding.

The funding from the DOE program is intended to offset costs for transmission, storage, and/or distribution infrastructure projects that support clean energy goals, enhance grid reliability and resilience, and provide necessary innovation in project planning and development.

The DOE said it is interested in broad project applications, including interregional transmission projects, investments that accelerate the interconnection of clean energy generation, utilization of distribution grid assets to provide backup power and reduce transmission requirements, and more.

The first round Grid Innovation Program award is a matching grant of up to $250 million, with $1 billion available for interregional transmission projects. The DOE anticipates between four and 40 awards, with a total of $1.82 billion available.

Earlier this year, during the first round of Grid Innovation Program funding, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island, with support from New Hampshire and Vermont, submitted a concept paper to DOE for a Joint State Innovation Partnership for Offshore Wind. The paper proposed an integrated and expandable transmission network off New England’s coast to interconnect thousands of megawatts of offshore wind.

Massachusetts and Connecticut subsequently submitted full applications to the DOE focused on the onshore upgrades needed to enable an offshore wind transmission network.

Massachusetts applied for up to $250 million in federal funding to support upgrades to the onshore transmission system to prepare the grid for the interconnection of offshore wind. Connecticut is seeking federal funding to upgrade the regional transmission grid in Connecticut to better integrate offshore wind generation.

The DOE said it expects to announce the first round of Grid Innovation Program awards later this year.