Federal agencies announced steps Tuesday to expand and improve the nation’s electricity grid to facilitate renewable energy generation and improve its resilience. DOT said it will facilitate permitting along rail lines, highways, and other federal rights-of-way and it issued guidelines to help states host and build transmission lines and renewable energy projects. DOE announced two loan programs totalling $8.25 billion, including $3.25 billion for projects in the West to connect renewable energy sources to population centers that need the electricity, and $5 million for Tribal projects, including for offshore wind.
Greatly expanded transmission capacity to carry electricity from solar installations in the desert or wind farms in the Great Plains, for example, is vital to decarbonizing the nation’s power sector, according to a report released Tuesday. Building 22 “shovel-ready” high-voltage power line projects at a cost of $33 billion, the report released by Americans for a Clean Energy Grid says, could support a 50% increase in U.S. wind and solar generation, and create more than 1.2 million jobs. That investment is just a first step, the report’s authors say, but one that can beget more action.
“[These projects] can be underway in the next 12 to 36 months if we can just get a little bit of a push to get these projects over the top,” Michael Skelly, founder of Grid United, and co-author of the report, told reporters. (Loan programs: Reuters, Politico Pro $; ACEG report: E&E $; Both: AP, Wall Street Journal $)