June 19, 2013
Department of Energy's Interconnection Transmission Planning Program Funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009
Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act), the Department of Energy's (Department) Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability received about $4.5 billion to modernize the electric grid. About $80 million of this funding was designated for the Interconnection Transmission Planning Program to facilitate the development or strengthening of capabilities in each interconnection. The transmission infrastructure in the United States is separated into three distinct electrical networks, or interconnections – the Western, Eastern, and Texas interconnections. The Department allocated $60 million to five organizations under cooperative agreements to perform work for the interconnections and $20 million to the Department's national laboratories to provide technical support to those organizations. The cooperative agreements covered interconnection-level analysis and planning, and coordination and cooperation among states on electric resource planning and priorities.
We found that the Department had generally established and implemented a system of internal controls for managing the announcement, review and selection of cooperative agreement funding recipients. Also, the recipients had released the required planning studies to the public in 2011. However, we found that the Department had not adequately managed reimbursements to recipients for consultant compensation. As such, we questioned the payment of $86,000 in payments to consultants. Management partially concurred with our recommendations, but provided corrective actions that we considered to be responsive. This report is the third in a series of reports on the Department's funding to modernize the electric grid.