In support of the current administration’s commitment to modernize the nation’s power grid and infrastructure and deliver 100% clean energy to businesses and homeowners by 2035, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is offering up to $8.25 billion in loans from its Loan Programs Office (LPO) and the Western Area Power Administration (WAPA) for efforts to expand and improve the nation’s transmission grid.
“DOE is making financing available for projects that improve resilience and expand transmission capacity across the electrical grid, so we can reliably move clean energy from places where it’s produced to places where it’s needed most,” says Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “This is a down payment on our efforts to modernize our transmission nationwide – but we need the American Jobs Plan to complete them. These investments will make our power system more resilient against threats and more reliable as we increase our clean energy capacity – creating thousands of jobs in the process.”
President Joe Biden’s American Jobs Plan calls for substantial investments to modernize and upgrade the country’s power grid – improving resilience against cyber threats, natural disasters and physical attacks. This includes expansion and upgrades to transmission lines which are also essential to the administration’s goal of reaching 100% clean electricity by 2035. Renewable energy capacity is often generated far away from population centers where demand is highest. Without added transmission capacity, the electricity grid cannot reliably and consistently deliver renewably sourced power from these points of generation to high-demand areas.
As DOE joins federal efforts to increase the grid’s renewable energy capacity – such as the plan announced last month to add 30 GW of offshore wind energy by 2030 – Granholm has made addressing transmission challenges a key priority. The recent announcement lays out financial tools that DOE can bring to bear in support of transmission development. Passage of the American Jobs Plan will allow DOE to expand on these resources.
DOE has two separate financing streams available to assist with transmission projects:
- Up to $5 billion in loan guarantees from LPO. LPO’s Title 17 Innovative Energy Loan Guarantee Program and Tribal Energy Loan Guarantee Program allow DOE to support transmission projects along with transmission projects owned by federally recognized tribal nations or Alaska Native Corporations. This includes high-voltage direct current (HVDC) systems, transmission to connect offshore wind, and facilities sited along rail and highway routes.
- Up to $3.25 billion from WAPA’s Transmission Infrastructure Program (TIP) revolving loan program. TIP is a federal debt financing program, congressionally mandated to support transmission and related infrastructure projects that facilitate the delivery of reliable, affordable, clean power in the Western U.S. Applicants can leverage WAPA’s technical transmission expertise for project development support and access low-cost capital.
Details on loan guarantees through LPO and application instructions can be found here. Details on loan eligibility through TIP and application instructions can be found here. The full list of announcements around efforts to enhance the electrical grid can be found here.
Photo: Jennifer M. Granholm