Administration pushes $220M electric grid upgrade program

Administration pushes $220M electric grid upgrade program
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The Department of Energy is looking to pump $220 million into a program to upgrade the American electric grid. 

Energy Secretary Ernest MonizErnest MonizWhat we learned from Rick Perry's confirmation hearing Overnight Energy: Rough hearing for Tillerson Overnight Energy: Former Exxon chief Tillerson takes the hot seat MORE announced the push Thursday, saying the funding would help advance grid research at the agency's national laboratories and private-sector partners. 

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“This public-private partnership … will help us further strengthen our ongoing efforts to improve our electrical infrastructure so that it is prepared to respond to the nation’s energy needs for decades to come,” Moniz said in a statement.

Updating the energy grid has been a major priority for the Obama administration, and it was a key plank of the first “Quadrennial Energy Review” the Energy Department released in April.

At the time, the Obama administration said it would seek nearly $4 billion to modernize the electric grid. Republicans broadly agreed with many of the policy ideas presented in the energy policy review, and both chambers are pushing energy overhaul bills with grid modernization provisions in them.

The program Moniz announced Thursday will focus on issues such as integrating renewable energy into the grid, as well as the development of energy storage and smart buildings. 

The research will also look at protecting the grid from cyber attacks and climate change, the Energy Department said. 

“Modernizing the U.S. electrical grid is essential to reducing carbon emissions, creating safeguards against attacks on our infrastructure, and keeping the lights on,” Moniz said.