The Department of Energy's (DOE's) Building a Better Grid Initiative, launched January 12, 2022, will catalyze the nationwide development of new and upgraded high-capacity electric transmission lines and support investments to modernize the flexibility and resilience of the distribution system to create a more resilient electric grid. The initiative, enabled by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) and administered by GDO, brings together community and industry stakeholders to identify national transmission and distribution needs and supports the buildout of long-distance, high-voltage transmission facilities and distribution systems that are critical to reaching President Biden’s goal of 100% clean electricity by 2035 and a zero-emissions economy by 2050.
A successful transmission and distribution network requires deliberate planning— and a new and different approach. Building a Better Grid supported activities include:
- Administers the BIL-supported $2.5 billion Transmission Facilitation Program to support the development of nationally significant transmission lines, increase resilience by connecting regions of the country, and improve access to clean energy sources.
- Distributes up to $2.3 billion over five years and will provide grants to States, territories, and Tribes to strengthen and modernize America’s power grid against wildfires, extreme weather, and other natural disasters exacerbated by climate change through the Grid Resilience Formula Grants.
- Administers the $10.5 billion Grid Resilience and Innovation Partnerships program which includes funding opportunities to improve the resilience of the grid, enhance grid flexibility, and support the development of transmission and distribution infrastructure through three financing mechanisms: Grid Resilience Utility and Industry Grants, Smart Grid Grants, and the Grid Innovation Program.
- Oversees the $760 million Transmission Siting and Economic Development Grants program, which provides DOE with authority to issue grants to siting authorities to facilitate their processing of requests to permit and site certain high-voltage interstate or offshore electricity transmission lines. Grants may also be available to siting authorities or other State, local, or Tribal governmental entities for economic development activities in communities that may be affected by the construction and operation of a covered transmission project.
- Identifies high-priority national transmission needs and provides information about capacity constraints and congestion on the nation’s electric transmission grid through the National Transmission Needs Study.
- Identifies transmission that can inform regional and interregional planning processes and identify interregional and national strategies through the National Transmission Planning Study.
- Convenes a broad range of offshore wind (OSW) transmission stakeholders to identify strategies to support sustainable and equitable development of OSW transmission while minimizing impacts to ocean co-users and marine environments and creating benefits for coastal and underserved communities, and the Nation as a whole.
This Initiative will make the U.S. power grid more resilient to the impacts of climate change, increase access to affordable and reliable clean energy, and create good-paying American jobs across industry sectors.
As outlined in a Notice of Intent issued by the Department, the Building a Better Grid Initiative will support the deployment of nationally significant transmission projects, distribution investments, and grid upgrades. A public webinar with additional details was held on February 24, 2022.