New questions received from applicants will be posted with answers on the Clean Energy Infrastructure Funding Opportunity eXCHANGE.
Please visit https://infrastructure-eXCHANGE.energy.gov for the most up-to-date list.
What is the Transmission Siting and Economic Development (TSED) program?
The Transmission Siting and Economic Development (TSED) program is a DOE funding program designed to help overcome permitting challenges that slow the deployment of critical transmission and to provide tangible economic benefits to communities that host or are impacted by transmission construction and operation across the country. Section 50152 of the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (IRA) authorizes the Secretary of Energy to make funds available to siting authorities to carry out eligible activities that will facilitate the siting and permitting of certain interstate onshore and offshore electricity transmission lines. Section 50152 also authorizes the Secretary to make funds 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 such transmission projects.
How much funding is available through this program?
The total funding available for the TSED program under the law is $760 million. In the first funding opportunity announcement, DOE has made $300 million available to fund both siting and permitting activities and economic development activities. DOE has not limited either category of activities to a specific portion of the $300 million that has been made available.
When does DOE expect to announce the initial distribution of funds under the TSED program?
DOE anticipates notifying initial award recipients in the Summer of 2024.
When will TSED funds be available for awardees to use for economic development activities?
DOE expects to announce the first economic development awardees in summer 2024. DOE will allocate funds for successful proposals at that time. However, DOE may only disburse funds for economic development activities to a siting authority upon approval by the siting authority of the applicable covered transmission project; and to any other state, local, or Tribal government entity upon commencement of construction of the applicable covered transmission project in the area under the jurisdiction of the entity. The Funding Opportunity Announcement includes more information about these requirements in Section I.B (Funding Opportunity Description).
The FOA describes two methods to establish that the commencement of construction requirement has been satisfied: (1) construction of a covered transmission project begins when physical work of a significant nature begins and is maintained continuously based on the particular facts and circumstances; or (2) the grantee pays or incurs 5 percent or more of the total cost of the covered transmission project and make continuous effort to advance towards completion of the covered transmission project. Facts and circumstances indicating continuous efforts to advance towards completion of the covered transmission project may include but are not limited to: (a) paying or incurring additional amounts included in the total cost of the covered transmission project; (b) entering into binding written contracts for components or future work on construction of the covered transmission project; (c) obtaining necessary permits; and (d) performing physical work of a significant nature. If a covered transmission project is placed into service within [6 Years] then the covered transmission project would have satisfied the continuous effort requirements of 1 and 2 above.
Based on the facts and circumstances, an applicant may be permitted to use TSED funds to reimburse previously incurred expenses on qualifying activities such as laying the groundwork for an economic development project. However, the applicant assumes the risk that the requirements for disbursement may never be satisfied, such as in the event that the relevant transmission project is canceled by the developer.
How long will funding be available through the TSED program?
Funding is available until expended or September 30, 2029, whichever occurs first. DOE anticipates additional rounds of funding following the initial FOA that was announced on August 29, 2023.
Application Process and Requirements
What is the application process for the TSED program?
The application process for TSED has two phases: a Concept Paper phase and a Full Application phase. Applicants that have submitted a Concept Paper prior to the final submission deadline for Concept Papers will be eligible to submit a Full Application. Applicants who are not selected in the initial round of funding are welcome to apply again in any future round.
What are the submission deadlines to apply for this Funding Opportunity Announcement?
DOE released the first Funding Opportunity Announcement for the TSED program on August 29, 2023. The submission deadline for Concept Papers is October 31, 2023, by 5:00 PM ET. The submission deadline for Full Applications is April 5, 2024, by 5:00 PM ET. Please note that only applicants who have submitted an eligible Concept Paper will be eligible to submit a Full Application. DOE anticipates notifying award recipients in the Summer of 2024.
Are applicants required to submit a Concept Paper as part of the application process?
Yes. Applicants are required to submit a Concept Paper to be eligible to submit a Full Application. Concept Papers are brief writeups that express to DOE the applicant’s interest in funding. Concept Papers should contain preliminary information that identifies eligibility and briefly describes the proposed project or projects at a high level. Here is a checklist that describes what should be included in a Concept Paper and how long it should be.
Are there cost share requirements under the TSED program?
Yes. Economic development activities (Area of Interest 2 in the Funding Opportunity Announcement) have a federal cost share requirement of 5%. Siting and permitting activities (Area of Interest 1 in the Funding Opportunity Announcement) have cost share requirements that depend on the activity.
Participation by the siting authority in regulatory proceedings or negotiations in another jurisdiction, under the auspices of a Transmission Organization, at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, a State regulatory commission, or relevant authority within an Indian Tribe has a federal cost share requirement of 50% (Area of Interest 1C and 1D in the Funding Opportunity Announcement).
Studies and analyses of transmission project impacts, examination of up to 3 alternative siting corridors, and other measures or actions that may improve the chances of or reduce the time required for siting authority approval have a federal cost share requirement of 5% (Area of Interest 1A, 1B, and 1E in the Funding Opportunity Announcement).
What is a Community Benefits Plan?
The Department of Energy (DOE) requires Community Benefits Plans as part of all BIL and IRA funding opportunity announcements (FOAs) and loan applications.
Community Benefits Plans are based on a set of four core policy priorities: investing in America's workforce; engaging communities and labor; advancing diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility; and implementing Justice 40. These key principles, when incorporated comprehensively into project proposals and applications and executed upon, will help ensure broadly shared prosperity in the clean energy transition.
Community Benefits Plan are intentionally flexible to generate the best approaches from applicants and their partners. Plans must be specific, actionable, and measurable. When an applicant is selected, their Community Benefits Plan will be part of the contractual obligation of the funding recipient. A summary of the Community Benefits Plan will be publicly posted on DOE’s website for transparency and accountability. The standard Community Benefits Plan template to accompany funding opportunity announcements (FOAs) can be downloaded here.
More information about Community Benefits Plans can be found here.
Are applicants for siting and permitting funds required to submit a Community Benefits Plan?
No. Applications for siting and permitting funds under Area of Interest 1 do not need to include a Community Benefits Plan. This is because Area of Interest 1 is focused specifically on activities undertaken within governmental siting and review processes.
Are applicants for economic development funds required to submit a Community Benefits Plan?
Yes. Applicants applying for economic development funds, Area of Interest 2 in the Funding Opportunity Announcement, are required to submit a Community Benefits Plan. See Section IV.E.xvii of the Funding Opportunity Announcement for the required contents of a Community Benefits Plan.
Who is eligible to apply for funding through this program?
- For siting and permitting activities: siting authorities, defined as Tribal, state, or local governmental entities with the authority to make a final determination regarding the siting, permitting, or regulatory status of a “covered transmission project.”
- For economic development activities: siting authorities or any Tribal, state, or local governmental entity proposing to undertake a project in a community impacted by the construction or operation of a “covered transmission project.”
What siting and permitting activities can be supported with funds under this program?
The IRA identifies a number of siting and permitting activities that grants to siting authorities may support and allows flexibility for other proposed activities. Some of these are described in the Funding Opportunity Announcement under Area of Interest 1. These activities must be tied to a covered transmission project and include:
- Studies and analyses of the impacts of a covered transmission project.
- Examination of up to three alternate siting corridors within which a covered transmission project feasibly could be sited.
- Participation by the siting authority in regulatory proceedings or negotiations in another jurisdiction, or under the auspices of a Transmission Organization (as defined by 16 U.S.C. § 796) that is also considering the siting or permitting of the covered transmission project.
- Participation by the siting authority in regulatory proceedings at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission or a State regulatory commission for determining applicable rates and cost allocation for the covered transmission project.
- Other measures and actions that may improve the chances of, and shorten the time required for, approval by the siting authority of the application relating to the siting or permitting of the covered transmission project, as the Secretary determines appropriate.
What constitutes “other measures and actions” for supported siting and permitting activities?
Examples of “other measures and actions” that will strengthen and accelerate siting and permitting of a covered transmission project may include but are not limited to:
- Human resources capacity, including funds to support staff or consultants to carry out activities related to permitting and siting of a covered transmission project.
- Coordination with other state, Tribal, or federal jurisdictions relevant to the siting and permitting of a covered transmission project.
- Coordination regarding a covered transmission project with other siting and permitting entities within the same state.
- Engagement and communication with stakeholders including impacted communities regarding a covered transmission project, including but not limited to:
- The development of plain language informational and educational materials to support the siting and permitting of a covered transmission project, such as (1) materials that describe siting and permitting regulatory processes and identify opportunities for the public to engage with those processes, or (2) materials that describe the benefits and impacts of a covered transmission project.
- Convening members of the public including impacted community members for meetings concerning siting and permitting of a covered transmission project, to include the costs of neutral meeting facilitators and other miscellaneous meeting facilitation costs.
- Other activities proposed by the applicant to increase the efficiency of and otherwise strengthen siting and permitting processes applicable to a covered transmission project.
What types of economic development activities can this program support?
Below is a list of some of the types of activities applicants can propose for funding under the TSED program. However, these are just examples of the types of activities that can be considered. DOE urges communities to let their government representatives know what types of activities would best suit their specific local needs. Examples:
- Sub-grant programs offering the opportunity for communities to propose activities that will positively impact the local economy.
- Local energy democratization and resilience projects, such as the development of microgrids, distributed generation (e.g., solar), energy storage, or electric vehicle charging infrastructure.
- Affordable and sustainable housing.
- Co-location of high-speed broadband.
- Development of community facilities to support public safety services, healthcare services, utility services, education, improved transit, or community gatherings.
- Development or improvement of environmental resources, such as creating green spaces, restoring disturbed lands, or expanding endangered species habitat.
- Job training and apprenticeship programs.
- Low-income energy funds to reduce costs for qualifying members of the community.
Potential applicants are welcome to submit applications that propose activities that are not listed here.
Why would a proposed project not be considered by DOE for TSED support?
Applications will not be reviewed or considered if they clearly fall outside the parameters and objectives of the program. Types of applications that will not be considered include:
- Applications for activities that have no nexus to a covered transmission project. Proposed activities must relate either to the siting or permitting of a covered interstate or offshore transmission project, or to communities affected by the construction and operation of such a covered transmission project.
- Applications pertaining to transmission projects that are located exclusively in a single state and are not connected to offshore facilities.
- Applications for activities that pertain to transmission infrastructure that has already been fully permitted and that is fully operational in all relevant jurisdictions.
Can community organizations/nonprofits apply to DOE for economic development funds under the TSED program?
No. However, they are encouraged to partner with their governmental representatives to apply. Under the statute, only siting authorities and other State, local, or Tribal governmental entities are eligible to apply for economic development funds through the TSED program. DOE encourages communities to reach out to their local government officials to identify economic development projects that would benefit their communities and could be supported with TSED funding.
Tribes may not have a designated “siting authority” for transmission projects, including those crossing reservation lines. How would DOE view eligibility for them for these grants?
In order to be eligible for grants related to siting and permitting activities (under IRA section 50152(b)(1)), the grant recipient must be a “siting authority,” which the statute defines as: a State, local, or Tribal governmental entity with authority to make a final determination regarding the siting, permitting, or regulatory status of a covered transmission project that is proposed to be located in an area under the jurisdiction of the entity.
Tribal governmental entities are eligible for grants for economic development activities (under IRA section 50152(b)(2)) for communities that may be affected by the construction and operation of a covered transmission project.
Are there any statutory conditions placed on siting and permitting awardees under the TSED program?
Yes. The IRA requires siting authorities that receive a grant for siting and permitting activities with respect to a covered transmission project to agree, in writing, to reach a final decision on the application relating to the siting or permitting of the applicable covered transmission project no later than 2 years after the date the grant is provided. The statutory language also provides that the Secretary may, in her discretion, extend this timeline for good cause. For more information about these requirements as well as what may constitute “good cause,” please see the FOA at Section I.B (Areas of Interest).
In addition, funding for certain enumerated eligible siting activities related to participation in regulatory proceedings or negotiations is subject to a federal cost share not to exceed 50 percent. For more information about cost share requirements, please see Section III.B of the FOA.
What is a “covered transmission project”?
As defined in Section 50152(e)(1) of the Inflation Reduction Act, a “covered transmission project” is a high voltage interstate or offshore electricity transmission line that is proposed to be constructed and to operate either at a minimum of 275 kV of either AC or DC electric energy by an entity, or offshore at a minimum of 200 kV of either AC or DC electric energy by an entity, and for which such entity has applied, or informed a siting authority of such entity’s intent to apply, for regulatory approval.