Energy & Environment

Biden administration announces $8.25B in loans to boost power grid

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The Biden administration is taking several actions to boost the power grid, it announced Tuesday, including up to $8.25 billion in new Energy Department loans.

Through the department’s Western Area Power Administration Transmission Infrastructure Program, $3.25 billion will be available for supporting electricity transmission projects that will bolster renewable energy in the West.

And the department will loan up to an additional $5 billion toward “innovative” projects and ones that are owned by tribal nations or Alaska Native Corporations. These include a type of bulk transmission system called high-voltage direct current, as well as those that connect to offshore wind or are situated along rail and highways.

“This is a down payment on our efforts to modernize our transmission nationwide—but we need the American Jobs Plan to complete them,” Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said in a statement. “These investments will make our power system more resilient against threats and more reliable as we increase our clean energy capacity, creating thousands of jobs in the process.”

Separately, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg announced his department will issue guidance to states on hosting transmission lines, part of a broader effort to use highway rights-of-way toward developing nuclear energy.

“Our new guidance will help states use their rights-of-way to expand clean energy, lower costs, and create good-paying jobs in their communities,” Buttigieg said in a statement. “Today’s actions can provide a model for our private partners, like railroads, to do the same.”

The announcement comes after extreme winter weather in Texas knocked out the Lone Star State’s self-contained electrical grid, causing blackouts that left millions without power. Those blackouts have prompted debate about what the federal government’s involvement should be in regional grid operations, as well as concerns about grids’ vulnerability to extreme weather or cyberattacks.

“After the Texas transmission debacle this winter, no one can doubt the need to invest in our electric grid,” White House climate adviser Gina McCarthy said in a statement. “The steps that the Departments of Energy and Transportation are taking today, when combined with the grid investments outlined in the American Jobs Plan, will turbocharge the building of major new electricity transmission lines that will generate new jobs and power our economy for years to come.”

Tags Biden infrastructure Electric power transmission electrical grid Gina McCarthy Jennifer Granholm Pete Buttigieg Power grid power outage Smart grid
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