Resilience and Reliability - An electrical grid overlay on a map of the United States

Withstanding and quickly recovering from extreme weather events must be a critical function of today’s grid. One year into the Building a Better Grid Initiative, let’s look at how GDO is working to boost resilience and reliability to provide electricity to everyone, everywhere, all the time.

In December 2022, the U.S. power sector braced for the impact of subzero freezes across the nation as winter storm Elliott caused plummeting temperatures, in some places as low as -40º F. This followed a summer and fall where wildfires, heat waves, and hurricanes had families and communities across the U.S. desperately trying to respond to catastrophic impacts on their electric infrastructure. As extreme weather caused by climate change hits every state and territory across the country, we must have grid infrastructure that can withstand and quickly recovery quickly from 21st century threats, both natural and manmade, to keep the lights on for families and communities everywhere.

Grid modernization and reliability is an inherent component of the Building a Better Grid initiative, which turned one year old last week. The Initiative is identifying national transmission and distribution needs and supporting the deployment of interstate, high-voltage lines that connect clean energy resources to where the power is needed and create good-paying jobs across the country. This includes ensuring that upgrades and new lines are resilient and reliable both today and well into the future.

In support of the Initiative, GDO’s Grid Modernization Division is leading the development and execution of programs to deploy approximately $13 billion in funds from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) to finance grid modernization with a focus on improving flexibility, reliability, and resilience against the growing threats of extreme weather and climate change. This past year saw the launch of these programs, including the first of several grant cycles.

In July 2022, DOE launched the Grid Resilience Formula Grants program, which will distribute up to $2.3 billion over five years to States, Territories, and Tribal entities, with priority given to projects that generate the greatest community benefit. A formula grant is a non-competitive funding opportunity for a specific group of applicants in which a formula is used to allocate funds. This program’s formula examines five factors: population, land area, probability and severity of disruptive events, and a locality’s historical expenditure on mitigation efforts.

In August, GDO announced $10.5 billion in competitive grants and financial assistance via the Grid Resilience and Innovation Partnerships (GRIP) program. GRIP comprises three different competitive funding mechanisms to improve grid resilience and flexibility, including increasing transmission capacity and improving load management as more grid-edge devices are electrified. One of the three components, the Smart Grid Grants, also seeks to improve visibility of the electrical system, enhance secure communications, aggregate distributed energy resources, and enhance interoperability between transmission and distribution systems. To leverage the impact of Federal support to drive wider market change through the GRIP program, GDO is focusing on transformational projects that can lead to cascading improvement of resilience efforts at the local, regional, and national level. This includes projects that have a multiplier effect and can lead to further private-sector investment and additional non-Federal investment that support wide-ranging community benefits. By combining the three mechanisms as a joint program, DOE’s GDO hopes to encourage States, Tribal entities, Territories, and industry to think about grid resilience and modernization comprehensively.

As with all BIL-funded initiatives, GRIP projects must also support meaningful community and labor engagement to understand what affected communities need and want from both the proposed project and the energy system in general. Each applicant is required to submit a Community Benefits Plan that describes how the project will ensure inclusive collaboration, create good-paying jobs, advance diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA), and contribute to the Justice40 Initiative goal of having 40 percent of overall benefits from certain federal investments flow to disadvantaged communities (DACs). These benefits include, but are not limited to, decreased energy burden, decreased exposure to environmental harm, and increased job training and access to high-quality jobs and clean energy contracting. A deeper dive into the Community Benefits Plan components can be found in Amendment 3 of the GRIP FOA.

Where do efforts stand now?

  • Applications for the first year and second year funding allocations of the Grid Resilience Formula Grants are due March 31, 2023. This program will distribute up to $2.3 billion over five years.
  • In November 2022, GDO opened the first round of funding for GRIP for fiscal years 2022–2023 and anticipates making selections in 2023. A second competitive funding opportunity will be issued in fiscal year 2024.

Need help comparing the various funding opportunities? Our Grid and Transmission Program Conductor provides easy side-by-side comparisons to help track new and forthcoming programs.

Note: This blog post is part of a series in celebration of the one-year anniversary of the launch of the Building a Better Grid Initiative. Join us as we look at different components of the Initiative in action, learn about the accomplishments achieved, and get a preview of what’s to come. Learn more about the Building a Better Grid Initiative.

Find more Building a Better Grid celebration materials on One Year of Building a Better Grid