The energy and utilities industry has an opportunity to advance its grid modernization and clean energy efforts by tapping into funds allocated in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill signed by President Joe Biden on Nov. 15, 2021, includes about $550 billion in new spending with a full $65 billion earmarked for upgrading the national power infrastructure.
Funds will go to initiatives centered on reducing carbon, including the construction of thousands of miles of new transmission lines needed for the expansion of renewables and clean energy. The funding will also support the development, demonstration and deployment of cutting-edge clean energy technologies to speed the industry’s transition to a zero-emission economy. Efforts to clean up Superfund and Brownfield sites, reclaim abandoned mine land and cap orphaned gas wells are also eligible for funds under the bill.
The $65 billion designated for grid infrastructure and resiliency includes:
Funding for the bill will primarily be funneled through the Department of Energy and Department of Transportation and distributed by way of a competitive grant program or annual allocation formula. Money designated for existing programs will be available in the second quarter of 2022 at the earliest, with the bulk of funding expected to be released in the second half of the year.
Companies should already be in the process of responding to funding opportunity announcements by planning preparedness steps and evaluating expected requirements.
In order to take advantage of the near $65 billion designated for energy initiatives including grid infrastructure and resiliency, start by considering the types of projects you are already working on and/or the focus of your corporate social responsibility groups. Projects that could be considered for these funds include a range of activities.
Installation and equipping of community-scale renewable energy technologies and systems
Small and large wind generation
Small and large solar generation
Ocean (tidal, current, thermal) generation
Replacement of energy-inefficient equipment
Doors and windows
High efficiency heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems (HVAC)
Once you’ve considered the types of projects you’re currently pursuing or interested in pursuing in the future, a cost-benefit analysis should be performed to weigh the benefits of receiving government funding against the potential costs. Some of those considerations could include the cost of compliance and the cost of compiling the reporting required for the application and execution of grants. Regulated companies may have additional items to consider, including how available grant money factors into the broader regulatory strategy.