As a part of US President Biden’s ‘Investing in America’ initiative, a central component of his economic strategy, the US Department of Energy (DOE) has announced a substantial commitment of up to $1.3bn. This commitment will support the development of three transmission lines spanning across six states. Made possible through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, this investment aims to propel ambitious projects designed to increase the US’ grid capacity by 3.5GW. To put this in perspective, this additional capacity is sufficient to power approximately 3 million households. Furthermore, it is expected to generate over 13,000 direct and indirect employment opportunities.

These projects will play a vital role in advancing the Biden-Harris Administration’s groundbreaking climate agenda. They will enhance the resilience and reliability of the nation’s power grid while simultaneously making affordable and clean electricity more accessible to both households and businesses.

In order to ensure a well-informed and meticulous expansion of our transmission infrastructure, the DOE has additionally unveiled the conclusive National Transmission Needs Study (Needs Study). This study offers valuable insights into areas where both the power grid and American communities would experience significant advantages from expanded transmission capabilities. These collaborative endeavours are integral to realising the Biden-Harris Administration’s unparalleled dedication to addressing the climate crisis and reaching the goal of a net-zero emissions economy by 2050, primarily by promoting the use of cleaner and more cost-effective energy sources.

US Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm said: “To realise the full benefit of the nation’s goal of 100% clean electricity by 2035, we need to more than double our grid capacity and President Biden’s Investing in America agenda puts us in position to do just that.

“This historic effort to strengthen the nation’s transmission will drive down costs for American families and deliver thousands of good paying jobs for American workers—helping communities keep the lights on in the face of climate change-induced extreme weather events.”

According to the recently released Needs Study, it is estimated that by 2035, the US will need to more than double the existing regional transmission capacity and increase interregional transmission capacity by over fivefold. This expansion is vital to achieve economy-wide decarbonisation and to fully unlock the clean energy potential outlined in President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act. These regional and interregional transmission needs will see a substantial rise to achieve the broader goal of economy-wide decarbonisation by 2050.

The Transmission Facilitation Program, along with the Needs Study, represents the financial and planning components of the Department of Energy’s comprehensive three-pronged strategy for expanding and modernising critical electric infrastructure. This strategy involves enhancing transmission planning, streamlining permitting processes, and offering financial tools to support deployment.

Today’s announcement of the initial projects supported by the Transmission Facilitation Program marks the most recent step in the execution of the largest investments ever made to fortify America’s power grid. These investments were secured by President Biden through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act, underscoring the administration’s commitment to modernizing and strengthening the nation’s electrical infrastructure.

Financed through the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Transmission Facilitation Program is a $2.5bn revolving fund designed to alleviate the financial challenges associated with the construction of new, large-scale transmission lines, the enhancement of existing transmission infrastructure, and the connection of microgrids in Hawaii, Alaska, and US territories.

The selected projects under the Transmission Facilitation Program are Cross-Tie 500kV Transmission Line (Nevada, Utah); Southline Transmission Project (Arizona, New Mexico); and Twin States Clean Energy Link (New Hampshire, Vermont).

The DOE is preparing to release a second round of TFP funding in the first half of 2024, which may encompass a mix of public-private partnerships, loans, and capacity contracts, with a total allocation of up to $1bn.