Monday, October 30, 2023
Thank you, Tracey. Thanks for the explanation, too, about the—all of the groundwork that has gone into this.
Bravo to Team WAPA [Western Area Power Administration]. And, you know, as we've all talked in this administration about accelerating transmission, I know the power administrations are really critical players in that. So thank you so much.
And thank you to the South Line team. So excited that this is actually happening.
Gov, so great to see you here. Congressman, you as well. Bipartisanship rules in transmission. So, love that, right?
This is really—today, today's announcement, there are two really, two announcements—is really a game changer for America's electric grid.
And it boils down to three fundamental goals: getting more power, to more people, in more places.
And this is really a mission that stretches back to the very beginnings of electrification in the United States.
Our grid in its earliest form was really concentrated in cities, right? Simply because we just didn't have the tools to store and transmit power over long distances. And in the early ‘30s, just 10% of the folks in rural communities like Cochise had access to electricity.
But all of that changed in 1935 when President Roosevelt announced plans to build out transmission lines under the Rural Electrification Administration, “REA.”
The REA was an early blueprint, really, for grid investment. But there were limits to its reach, quite literally.
You know, there's a story of a Georgia farmer who went to get his home connected. He was told he lived too far from the nearest line. So, he did what any reasonable person would do: he built a new foundation down the road, loaded his house on a bunch of logs, and rolled it closer.
So clearly, the REA was not perfect, but it is not an exaggeration to say that it actually fundamentally changed our nation. Folks described “the night the lights came on” as a generational shift for rural America.
And by the 1950s, 90% of rural homes were electrified. Farms became more efficient, profits soared, you know, remote communities grew into bustling towns. And every year, folks actually celebrated the anniversary of the day their family got power.
So, I tell you this story for just two reasons.
One, today's announcements are really a continuation of the work of FDR: getting more power to more people in more places.
And second, despite the progress we've made since the 1930s, our grid infrastructure is—has not kept pace with rising demand and climate change.
Some of the areas of our grid are relics from FDR’s presidency, and there—there's no way that can handle the demand and the changes. So the massive clean energy projects that we're bringing online across the country—I mean, this clean energy transition is on a roll, folks.
And you don't have to look very far to see it in action. Take the $450 million American Battery Factory that's headed to Tucson. The billion-dollar Maxion solar factory coming to Albuquerque.
The last thing we need is an outdated grid that's holding us back as the President's agenda is rolling us forward.
So, these modern challenges demand modern solutions. And the Department of Energy, I always call it, "America's Solutions Department," we are on the case.
So, our first step was to do our homework, and that homework is the Nationwide Transmission Needs Study that Maria's team has been kicking out.
And in the past, this study only considered current transmission challenges. But thanks to President Biden's Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, our team was empowered through that law to consider future challenges as well. Super important because of all of these factories that are coming back to America that will require power.
And our takeaways from this study that's being released today—that's announcement number one—is that no surprise, we need to build out transmission in every pocket of the country. To improve reliability, obviously, to improve resilience, to lower energy costs. Solar and wind in most places are now the cheapest form of energy.
And to build out this transmission to relieve congestion, because there are areas that are just blocked because there's no capacity to be bringing on new power. And so that is part of what this Needs Study demonstrates.
So from that Needs Study, we are announcing three projects today from our Transmission Facilitation Program, as Maria described. Three projects across six states that have huge potential to address those challenges.
We, DOE, the federal government, is investing $1.3 billion to get these three transmission lines off the ground. That $1.3 billion will unlock about $3 billion worth of private sector investment in grid infrastructure.
Once these three lines are operational, collectively, this will add three-and-a-half gigawatts of additional capacity to the nation's grid, which is enough to power the equivalent of 3 million homes. And they will create, importantly, 13,000 direct and indirect jobs, those three projects.
So the first project, South Line, spanning Hidalgo County, New Mexico, through Pima County, Arizona, 175 miles of transmission. This project, as you will hear, have heard, will include funding upgrades and additions to this existing substation, and infrastructure, obviously, to improve that resilience and performance.
And I just want to add: This is a week where the administration is really focusing on rural communities. And too often rural and underserved communities aren't able to get critical projects like this off the ground. They don't have the resources.
But this is where the federal government—this is where DOE comes in. We are supporting this initial phase of South Line. This initial phase will create 2,400 direct and indirect jobs. So, very exciting.
The second project, quickly, it's the Twin States Clean Energy Link. It's all the way across the country, it's a transmission line that will connect Vermont and New Hampshire and Canada as well. 7,000 direct and indirect jobs for that project.
And the third is Cross Tie. This is a new transmission line that's between Utah and Nevada. And this line is also a two-way, bi-directional, two-way street, which means we're going to be able to export Wyoming's wind power and Utah's solar power to California, and in turn, California can deliver clean energy to communities across the Rocky Mountain region.
And that project is going to create 4,000 direct and indirect jobs and eliminate, really importantly, 19.5 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions, which is really the equivalent of removing 4 million internal combustion engine vehicle emissions from the road.
So as Maria underscored, these three are part of this unprecedented push by the Biden-Harris Administration to invest in our grid, particularly in rural and underserved communities.
Just last week, we did announce the single largest investment in our grid in our history. Alongside private sector partners, we are investing $8 billion to boost the nation's grid capacity in 44 states.
And, you know, in total, the President's investment in the transmission, because of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, delivers about $20 billion to this—the largest machine on the planet, which is the national electric grid.
More power to the people in more places. And the best part: you don't have to move your house an inch to benefit.
Back in the 30s, when “the lights came on,” it marked a generational shift for communities like Cochise. And I am confident that the investments that we’re marking today will make a similar transformative impact.
Now, before I pass it over to you, Governor, I just have to say, as a former governor myself, what a great time to have a partner in the White House.
Because between the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act, what we call the Investing in America agenda, Arizona has 23 big clean energy projects—not even counting this one—23 factories, solar, battery, et cetera.
It's great. That's representing 90—excuse me, representing $9 billion of investment in Arizona. What a great time to be to be a governor in America, with a president like Joe Biden.
And with that, let me turn it over to a great clean energy champion, Governor Katie Hobbs.