The Department of Energy has committed up to $1.3 billion toward building three interregional transmission lines, adding 3.5 gigawatts of grid capacity throughout the United States.
The selected transmission projects include a 214-mile transmission line through Nevada and Utah, a 175-mile transmission line through New Mexico and Arizona, and a bidirectional line to expand the New England electric grid through New Hampshire and Vermont. Together, the three projects represent enough energy to power about 3 million homes and are expected to create over 13,000 jobs.
DOE Study Identifies Need to Double Transmission Capacity
Along with the financial commitment, the DOE released the final National Transmissions Needs Study, which identifies where the U.S. grid would benefit most from increased transmission. The study estimates that the country needs to more than double existing regional transmission capacity and expand existing interregional transmission capacity by over fivefold by 2035 to stay on track for national decarbonization goals.
Upgrades to transmission infrastructure, according to the study, are also needed to improve grid resilience, address high energy costs, and reduce energy congestion and constraints. Increasing interregional transmission allows power to be moved from where it is available to where it is most needed, across state lines.
Further, the power grid will need to undergo changes to adapt to the clean energy transition and to remain durable amidst increasing extreme weather events.
“To realize the full benefit of the nation’s goal of 100% clean electricity by 2035, we need to more than double our grid capacity and President Biden’s Investing in America agenda puts us in position to do just that,” said Jennifer M. Granholm, U.S. secretary of energy. “This historic effort to strengthen the nation’s transmission will drive down costs for American families and deliver thousands of good paying jobs for American workers—helping communities keep the lights on in the face of climate change-induced extreme weather events.”
DOE Provides Additional Funding to Expand Renewables in U.S. Grid
In addition to the recent funding announcement, the DOE also released plans earlier this month to devote $3.5 billion for 58 electric grid resilience projects as a part of its Grid Resilience and Innovation Partnerships Program. Combined, the projects will bring more than 35 GW of renewable energy to the grid.
According to a recent statement from Elevate Renewables, battery energy storage should also be expanded to support the inclusion of renewable energy to the U.S. grid. The DOE has initiated multiple funding opportunities for energy storage innovations, such as hydrogen storage and hydroelectric storage.
Through the new investments in grid resilience and capacity, more U.S. residents will be able to access clean energy. The DOE also anticipates release of a second round of Transmission Facilitation Program funding in the first half of 2024, totaling up to $1 billion, through a request for proposals for public-private partnerships, loans, and capacity contracts.