The Department of Energy is seeking comments on its plan to give states, Native American tribes and U.S. territories $459 million a year over five years to bolster grid resilience in the face of rising numbers of power outages driven by extreme weather.
The funding can be used on a range of projects, including hardening the grid, building distributed energy resources, setting up microgrids and putting in place monitoring, controls, and advanced modeling for improved real-time grid awareness, according to a notice of intent (NOI) and other documents released Wednesday.
“A modernized grid is the linchpin to President Biden’s goal of a nation powered by reliable, renewable clean energy,” DOE Secretary Jennifer Granholm said in a statement. “The president’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law grid investments will help provide the American people with resilient electricity generation regardless of a lightning strike or an extreme weather event.”
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act authorized $62 billion for DOE programs, including a $2.3 billion formula grant program aimed at improving grid resilience.
Power outages from severe weather have doubled since 2002 and the frequency and length of the outages reached their highest levels since reliability tracking began in 2013, with U.S. customers on average experiencing more than eight hours of outages in 2020, DOE said in a press release.
“DOE is encouraging eligible applicants to undertake an objectives-led planning process to formulate strategies that address all-hazards resilience and lead to needed improvements in infrastructure, including necessary and supporting grid modernization investments in underserved communities,” the department said in the NOI.
DOE is requiring states and tribes to work with stakeholders when they develop their investment plans for the funding.
“It is expected that a diverse set of populations, including underserved and disadvantaged communities, will participate in these efforts and will be provided equitable opportunities and the benefits that derive from them,” DOE said, noting it will provide technical support for those efforts.
States and tribes can allocate the funding to grid operators, energy storage operators, distribution utilities as well as power plant and transmission owners, according to the NOI.
State and Native American tribes are required to provide 15% matching funds.
DOE intends to offer $369.1 million a year to states, $82.3 million a year to Native American tribes and $7.6 million annually to U.S. territories, according to a proposed allocation plan. Proposed annual allocations for states range from $33 million for California to $1.5 million for Delaware and the District of Columbia.
Proposed Annual State Funding Allocation
|49||Rhode Island||$1.7 million|
|51||District of Columbia||$1.5 million|
The proposed funding levels are based on a formula that includes population size, land area, probability and severity of disruptive events, and a locality’s historical expenditures on efforts to strengthen their systems, DOE said.
Correction: A previous version of this story and its headline contained an erroneous total the Department of Energy provided. The infrastructure law authorized $2.3 billion for the program.