The world’s leading scientific organizations have been unambiguous that climate change is a dire and urgent threat and the longer we delay the stronger the action required. Over the last decade, we have witnessed the worsening impacts a changing climate has on our communities. To avoid the catastrophic consequences of climate change, we must ensure rapid greenhouse gas emissions reductions—based on the latest science and in line with our fair share—to put America on a pathway to reduce its emissions to net zero by 2050.
Critical to achieving this goal is the build out of transmission and other infrastructure necessary to make the shift to a net zero economy. Today’s network of transmission and distribution equipment still includes components from over 100 years ago. Varying age, condition, and capacities make it difficult to provide reliable power, and unreliable equipment, severe weather, and overloading can all cause power disruptions and damages to electric equipment. Unfortunately, as climate change gets worse, so does the problem. More than half of major power outages between 2000 and 2016 were caused by natural hazards such as hurricanes, heat waves, and wildfires.
The investments included in the BIL will support the build out of infrastructure necessary to make the shift to a net zero economy. It invests $2.5 billion for high-capacity and interregional transmission lines through a new Transmission Facilitation Program, which will make these investments through competitive loans and by leveraging private/public partnerships. High-capacity transmission lines are the missing link for a strong and resilient grid. These lines will connect existing and new clean energy projects across the country with all corners of the grid to ensure that clean energy isn’t going to waste. A recent report identifies 22 “shovel ready projects” that would connect solar and wind production to customers across the country. The Transmission Facilitation Program will make meaningful investments towards connecting existing clean energy deployment. In addition, the BIL invests $3 billion in the Smart Grid Investment Grant Matching Program, which supports the development and deployment of advanced technologies that support high capacity transmission networks. This means strong investments in manufacturing technologies that make our grid more reliable and resilient.
The opportunity for job growth in these sectors is tremendous. For example, a recent BlueGreen Alliance analysis of just the $2.5 billion investment included in the BILto modernize the nation’s transmission infrastructure revealed a job creation potential of 65,000 jobs over 10 years.
|Category||Program Name and Description||Funding Level||Administering Agency or Office||Funding mechanism||Timeline||Standards||Eligible Entities|
|Energy Infrastructure||Transmission Facilitation Program – Incentives for new high-capacity lines and upgrading existing lines for interconnections.||$2.5 Billion||DOE – Office of Electricity||New – Loans, Direct Financing||FY22-FY26||Davis Bacon, Buy America||Utilities, developers, co-ops|
|Smart Grid||Deployment of Technologies to Enhance Grid Flexibility – Funding and expansion of eligible activities under the Smart Grid Investment Matching Grant Program.||$3 Billion||DOE – Office of Electricity||New – Competitive Grants||FY22-FY26||Davis Bacon, Buy America||Utilities, developers, co-ops|
|Energy Storage||Energy Storage Demonstration Projects; Pilot Grant Program – grant funding for demonstration and pilot projects for energy storage, advanced reactors, carbon capture technologies, and direct air capture technologies.||$355 Million||DOE – Office of Clean Energy Demonstration||New – Competitive Grants, Cooperative Agreements||FY22-FY26||Davis Bacon, Buy America||National Labs, academia, state, tribal, local, utilities, developers, co-op|
Rounding Out the Build Back Better Agenda: Clean Energy Projects
The BIL does not include any funding for clean energy projects built with high-road labor standards and domestic content. It is critical that additional Build Back Better Agenda legislation include and strengthen clean energy tax credits, including those for onshore and offshore wind, solar, clean transportation, grid modernization, and energy efficiency. And to ensure these investments deliver quality, family-sustaining jobs and support a robust domestic supply chain, a range of labor, domestic content, and equity standards should be attached.
The BIL would fund $2.5 billion for the build out of the nation's transmission systems, far below what is needed to build and upkeep new and existing lines. With respect to energy storage, the BIL funding for the Smart Grid Investment Matching Grant Program and for energy storage demonstration projects is inadequate.