The Biden administration announced Wednesday that it will allocate $3.5 billion to electric grid resiliency projects.
The money, provided under the bipartisan infrastructure bill, will cover 58 projects in 44 states, Biden administration officials told reporters on a phone call Wednesday. This represents the largest single federal investment in the electric grid in U.S. history
The administration expected the funds to provide more than 35 gigawatts of new renewable energy. It also expected that 75 percent of the projects would include partnerships with the International Union of Electrical Workers. The administration has repeatedly sought to allay fears that the shift to renewable energy will come at the expense of worker protections. UAW President Sean Fine called this a wrong choice, and renewable energy advocates applauded Fine’s announcement earlier in October that General Motors’ electric vehicle battery plant in Lordstown, Ohio, would be added to the union’s master agreement.
The Grid Resilience and Innovation Partnerships (GRIP) program will include major projects in Georgia, Louisiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Oregon. The projects also include several regional interstate projects, including one involving Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, Minnesota, Missouri, and South Dakota; A wildfire mitigation project includes Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.
“Extreme weather events fueled by climate change will continue to stress the nation’s aging transportation systems, but President Biden’s Investing in America agenda will ensure America’s power grid can provide reliable, affordable energy,” Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said in a statement. “Today’s announcement represents the largest direct investment ever in critical grid infrastructure, supporting projects that will strengthen systems and improve energy reliability and affordability – all while generating union jobs for highly skilled workers.”
The announcement comes months after the Department of Energy’s previous announcement of $95 million to support grid resiliency in Hawaii, the site of devastating wildfires on the island of Maui over the summer.
Grid resiliency has been a key priority for the Biden administration, and became a greater concern for the United States after severe winter weather in 2021 knocked out Texas’ independently maintained power grid. Experts have warned that an increase in extreme weather conditions, exacerbated by climate change, makes the network’s existing infrastructure vulnerable to the threat posed by such events.
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