$3.5 Billion for Grid-Improving Projects as Part of the GRIP Program
Funded by the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the largest-ever investment in America’s electric grid will leverage more than $8 billion in federal and private investments.
The projects will support President Biden’s Justice40 Initiative to benefit disadvantaged communities.
The initiatives will bring more than 35 gigawatts of new renewable energy online while investing in 400 microgrids and contributing to better-paying union jobs.
While politics may divide opinions on many key issues involved in future-proofing the United States, grid security has found common ground in President Joe Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
Why a focus on grid resilience? Changing weather patterns have challenged an aging infrastructure that has seen more power outages than over the past decades. An increase in cooling and heating due to temperature extremes has put an additional load on the grid. Data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) has shown that power outages are happening more often and lasting longer, with the average outage incidents per year increasing from 1.2 to 1.42 between 2013 and 2021.
Grid failures have historically disproportionately impacted those of lower socioeconomic status and more vulnerable populations like the elderly and health compromised, as power outages can quickly lead to heat illness or hypothermia and even death.
As climate change continues to cause extreme weather events, it’s crucial to have a grid infrastructure that can withstand these conditions. This involves preparing for, responding to, and rapidly recovering from major power disruptions – all of which is addressed in Grid Resilience and Innovation Partnership Program projects.
What is the Grid Resilience and Innovation Partnership Program?
On October 18, 2023, the U.S. Department of Energy announced an investment commitment of up to $3.46 billion under the Grid Resilience and Innovation Partnerships (GRIP) Program. This funding is earmarked for 58 projects across 44 states with a goal to enhance the resilience and reliability of the electric grid throughout the United States.
“Today’s announcement represents the largest-ever direct investment in critical grid infrastructure, supporting projects that will harden systems, improve energy reliability and affordability—all while generating union jobs for highly skilled workers,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy, Jennifer M. Granholm.
The GRIP program is part of a broader set of programs under the Grid Deployment Office, including Grid Resilience Utility and Industry Grants, Smart Grid Grants, and the Grid Innovation Program.
With an allocation of $2.5 billion, these grants are intended to support utilities and industry in enhancing the power grid’s resilience and reduce impacts due to extreme weather and natural disasters. It aims to support electric grid operators, electricity storage operators, electricity generators, transmission owners or operators, distribution providers, and fuel suppliers.
2. Smart Grid Grants
The DOE Grid Deployment Office has set aside $ 3 billion for grants to advance smart grid technologies like sensors that can continuously track usage and quickly detect and resolve problems.
3. Grid Innovation Program
This component of the GRIP program focuses on fostering innovative solutions for grid resilience. There is currently $5 billion allocated for 2022 through 2026 to support innovative transmission, storage, and distribution infrastructure approaches to enhance grid resilience and reliability.
How the GRIP Program is Driving Renewable Energy Expansion
The GRIP Program plays a significant role in driving renewable energy expansion. In fact, The first round of funding under this program is set to boost U.S. renewable capacity by more than 10%. On November 14, 2023, the U.S. Department of Energy also opened the second round of the GRIP program, further driving renewable energy expansion possibilities.
These are some of the renewable energy projects that will benefit from the most recent round of funding.
Georgia – A comprehensive smart grid infrastructure update that will benefit communities across the state through increased reliability and lower costs, with an estimated investment of more than $507 million.
Louisiana – Two projects that will support microgrids that can stand alone or integrate with utility-owned electric grid infrastructure and backup generation assets, better positioning disadvantaged communities to withstand extreme weather.
Michigan – Detroit will deploy adaptive microgrids that will rely on new grid sensing mechanisms, which have the capability to adapt to changing energy demands and supply conditions in real time, especially after extreme weather events.
Pennsylvania – Multiple energy players in the state will increase grid reliability through initiatives like deploying battery systems for backup power, replacing aging infrastructure, and installing advanced conductors to increase grid capacity.
Oregon – Multiple projects across Oregon will connect vast amounts of clean energy to customers, create good-paying union jobs, and deploy connect distribution of renewable solutions like solar.
This most recent round of funding signifies momentum towards leveraging a larger $10.5 billion of strategic initiatives under President Biden’s Investing in America agenda that the Department of Energy (DOE) is implementing.
These initiatives, including investing in renewable energy, aim to fortify, diversify, and broaden the scope of America’s power grid, and as a byproduct, they aim to generate quality union employment opportunities and enhance community resilience against climate change.
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