The Biden Administration's $3.5 Billion Effort to Protect the Power Grid from Climate Change

The Biden administration is investing a historic $3.5 billion to improve the country's power grid. This investment aims to make the aging grid more resilient and enable it to accommodate the growing clean energy sources such as wind and solar power.

Protecting the power grid against climate change

The cold spell of 2021 caused the collapse of the Texas grid, resulting in the death of over 200 people and leaving millions of homes without power.

We saw something similar in New Orleans in 2022 when Hurricane Ida damaged power lines in the region.

Weather disasters like hurricanes, extreme heat, and wildfires caused by climate change are increasing the number of power outages in the U.S. The number of weather-related outages between 2011 and 2021 increased by 78%.

As the impacts of the climate crisis become more prevalent and the grid lines grow older (much of the U.S. electric grid was built in the 1960s and 1970s, and it has a 50-80-year lifecycle), the severity of power outages will increase.

We need to develop state-of-the-art technologies to protect the grid from these extreme events.

Clean energy requires better electrical grids

President Biden has set a goal of creating a 100 percent carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035. To support this energy transition, the U.S. must build renewable energy projects at an unprecedented rate, and they should be connected to the grid.

While new wind and solar projects are being commissioned, the power grid is not being expanded at the same pace to bring energy from these sources to power vehicles, heat buildings, and supplant fossil-fueled power plants.

This makes the $3.5 billion commitment all the more timely.

The U.S. is making the largest investment ever in the grid

The Department of Energy announced 58 projects across 44 states eligible to receive $3.5 billion in grants to combat these two issues. In addition to increasing the resilience of the grids and expanding their capacity to support the energy transition, it will invest in 400 microgrids or self-sufficient energy systems.

In events like blackouts caused by Hurricane Ida in September 2021 in Louisiana, microgrids will enable consumers to keep the power locally even when the grid experiences outages.

All the investments will be subject to Biden's Justice40 Initiative, which ensures that 40 percent of the benefits from federal investments go to communities marginalized, underserved, and overburdened by pollution.

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