US releases $ 8 billion to modernize nation’s power grid


The federal government said on Tuesday it was releasing more than $ 8 billion to build and improve the nation’s transmission lines as part of its efforts to improve America’s aging power grid and meet President Joe’s ambitious goals. Biden in terms of clean energy.

The administration is also committed to speeding up a slow licensing process that has delayed the types of large transportation projects that are critical to meeting Biden’s goals.

The president has said he wants the nation to produce 100% clean energy by 2035. But that goal faces huge hurdles. These include an electricity grid that has been hit by climate change and needs a huge expansion to transport electricity from renewable energy sources to densely populated areas.

The Department of Energy has announced that it will release $ 8.25 billion in developer loans to improve the grid’s ability to transport renewable energy from the windy, sunny plains to areas with the most it. need.

“These investments will make our electricity system more resistant to threats and more reliable as we increase our clean energy capacity, thereby creating thousands of jobs,” Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said in a statement. .

There will be $ 3.25 billion in loans available for projects that unlock renewable energy in the western United States. Another $ 5 billion in loans will support transportation projects owned by federally recognized tribes and Alaska Native corporations, including transportation to connect offshore wind.

The Department of Transportation will help speed up site selection and authorization of transportation projects by making it easier to use public roads and other transportation rights-of-way, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said. It will also publish guidance that will help states build renewable energy projects and transmission lines.

Gaining the approvals needed to build large transportation projects that cross national borders often takes a decade or more, and that’s before construction begins.

The administration’s actions are a “giant first step” towards building the network of tomorrow, said Larry Gasteiger, executive director of Wires, a transmission industry trade group. “It is unprecedented to have an administration that so actively supports the necessary development of transmission in so many of its branches,” he said.

The need for more solar, wind and cables to carry electricity to homes as part of Biden’s plan is extraordinary.

The Americans for a Clean Energy Grid, a non-profit organization dedicated to modernizing and expanding North America’s high-voltage grid, released a report on Tuesday listing 22 out-of-the-box transportation projects that could boost the use of wind and solar energy and generate 1.2 million jobs. It would cost $ 33 billion to build those transmission lines, the group said.

If all 22 projects were completed, the 8,000 miles of cable could provide a 50% increase in the amount of wind and solar power on the US grid. But those 22 projects represent just 10% of the transport investments needed to completely decarbonise the electricity sector, the group said.

“People think that is actually not possible and that we as a country cannot make it happen, but a lot of these projects have been going on for over a decade, most of them are authorized, ”said Michael Skelly, founder of Grid United. , and co-author of the report, during a conference call Tuesday.

If these projects are successful, it will lead to more success, he said. “They can be launched in the next 12 to 36 months if we can just get a little nudge to get these projects over the top.”

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