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Get a GRIP on DOE Funding

The acronym soup of fed­er­al laws that will tur­bocharge clean ener­gy is ready for prime­time. This week, we’ll take a look at the Infra­struc­ture Law, signed last year (some­times referred to as the BIL or the IIJA).

The Infra­struc­ture Law puts bil­lions of dol­lars into grid resilience and devel­op­ment over the next five years. This is an oppor­tu­ni­ty for state action to mod­ern­ize and decar­bonize the pow­er grid while ensur­ing that ben­e­fits flow equi­tably to com­mu­ni­ties. The Depart­ment of Ener­gy recent­ly announced an impor­tant step in imple­men­ta­tion: the Grid Resilience and Inno­va­tion Part­ner­ship (GRIP) pro­gram.

The GRIP pro­gram has three com­po­nents: grid resilience grants, smart grid grants, and the grid inno­va­tion pro­gram. Each of these pro­grams will pro­vide up to a 50% cost share for projects designed to increase grid reli­a­bil­i­ty and resilience, for exam­ple by address­ing prob­lems like pro­longed out­ages fol­low­ing a storm. Appli­ca­tions will have to include a Com­mu­ni­ty Ben­e­fits Plan to show how the project advances the work­force and equi­ty goals of the GRIP program.

Grid Resilience Grants. This $2.5 bil­lion pro­gram will fund grid oper­a­tors, gen­er­a­tors, fuel sup­pli­ers, and sim­i­lar enti­ties to mod­ern­ize and strength­en the grid against extreme weath­er and oth­er dis­as­ters that are exac­er­bat­ed by cli­mate change. (BIL sec­tion 40101(c.))

Smart Grid Grants. This $3 bil­lion pro­gram will focus on improv­ing the abil­i­ty of the trans­mis­sion sys­tem to inte­grate elec­tric vehi­cles and sup­port build­ing elec­tri­fi­ca­tion. The Depart­ment of Ener­gy is encour­ag­ing teams of appli­cants with diverse sets of stake­hold­ers, includ­ing state and local gov­ern­ments, trib­al nations, and uni­ver­si­ties. Awards will be up to $30 mil­lion each. (BIL sec­tion 40107)

Grid Inno­va­tion Pro­gram. This $5 bil­lion pro­gram is aimed at col­lab­o­ra­tions between states, Tribes, local gov­ern­ments, state com­mis­sions, and elec­tric sec­tor enti­ties to enhance resilience. Projects in this pro­gram will take inno­v­a­tive approach­es to trans­mis­sion, stor­age, and dis­tri­b­u­tion infra­struc­ture to pro­mote resilience and reli­a­bil­i­ty. Awards are in the $50 mil­lion to $250 mil­lion range, and the Depart­ment of Ener­gy is propos­ing to increase fund­ing for inter­re­gion­al trans­mis­sion projects to $1 bil­lion per award. (BIL sec­tion 40103(b.))

The Depart­ment of Ener­gy should announce the oppor­tu­ni­ty to apply for funds for fis­cal years 2022 and 2023 lat­er this year.

Anoth­er devel­op­ment is the Trans­mis­sion Facil­i­ta­tion Pro­gram. That pro­gram brings a lot to the table: $2.5 bil­lion through loans, pub­lic-pri­vate part­ner­ships, and arrange­ments where the Depart­ment of Ener­gy is the anchor ten­ant for projects, buy­ing up to half of the capac­i­ty of a trans­mis­sion project and then sell­ing that capac­i­ty. The Depart­ment of Ener­gy plans to issue an ini­tial call for pro­pos­als for projects where the Depart­ment would be an anchor ten­ant in 2022. Eli­gi­ble projects must plan to begin com­mer­cial oper­a­tion by Decem­ber 31, 2027. The Depart­ment of Ener­gy plans a sec­ond solic­i­ta­tion in ear­ly 2023 that invites appli­ca­tions for all three forms of sup­port in the pro­gram.

These fund­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties are among many pro­grams designed to boost clean ener­gy resources around the coun­try. Check out our last com­men­tary on oppor­tu­ni­ties in the IRA, the Infla­tion Reduc­tion Act.