Administration Commits $3.5B to Update Power Grid

Granholm calls it the biggest such investment ever
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 19, 2023 6:30 PM CDT
Administration Commits $3.5B to Update Power Grid
Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm speaks in August in Seattle.   (AP Photo/Lindsey Wasson, File)

The Biden administration on Wednesday announced $3.5 billion for 58 projects across the country to strengthen electric grid resilience as extreme weather events such as the deadly Maui and California wildfires continue to strain the nation's aging transmission systems. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said it was the largest federal investment ever in grid infrastructure, supporting projects that will harden electric systems and improve energy reliability and affordability, the AP reports. The federal spending, combined with money promised by private partners, could result in up to $8 billion in investments nationally to upgrade the grid, Granholm said.

"The grid, as it currently sits, is not equipped to handle all the new demand" and withstand natural disasters and extreme weather worsened by climate change, Granholm said at a news conference. "We need it to be bigger, we need it to be stronger, we need it to be smarter" to bring a range of renewable energy projects online and meet the administration's goal of reaching 100% clean electricity by 2035, she said. Projects funded by the Grid Resilience and Innovation Partnerships program will increase the flexibility, efficiency, and reliability of electric power systems, with a focus on spurring solar, wind, and other renewable energy, Granholm said.

The projects also are aimed at fixing problems that may contribute to wildfires and other disasters and will improve reliability by deploying innovative approaches to electricity transmission, storage, and distribution, officials said. Projects to be funded include $249 million each for rural areas in Georgia and Louisiana and $250 million for a Native American tribe in Oregon. The largest grant, $464 million, will go to five transmission projects across seven Midwestern states, from Iowa to North Dakota. Included is $95 million previously announced for Hawaii in the wake of this summer's wildfires and $150 million to PacifiCorp to upgrade the grid and boost wildfire mitigation in California, Oregon, Utah, and other states. "Our outdated grid has been in need of an update for a long, long time," said Mitch Landrieu, a White House senior adviser.

(More power grid stories.)

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