The infrastructure bill that was signed into law on Nov. 15 contains billions of dollars for numerous infrastructure projects, including more than $62 billion for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to fund a variety of projects of potential interest to electrical contractors.
Among these include:
- Investing more than $7 billion in the supply chain for batteries, which are essential to powering the economy with 24/7 clean, affordable and resilient energy and transportation options. This will include mining for critical minerals, sourcing materials for manufacturing and even recycling critical materials without new extraction/mining.
- Investing hundreds of millions in workforce development, giving workers in the electric grid, green building and industrial sectors access to training in cutting-edge technologies that will spur their careers in the years to come.
- Establishing a multi-agency Energy Jobs Council to work with stakeholders and oversee the development and release of energy jobs and workforce data to inform decisions by governments, businesses and other stakeholders at the national, state and local levels.
- Investing $500 million more into the existing State Energy Program to provide grants to communities, cities, states, U.S. territories and Native American tribes to develop and implement clean energy programs and projects that will create jobs.
- Investing $550 million more into the existing Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program (EECBG).
The EECBG Program represents the largest nationwide direct investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies at the community level in U.S. history, and it rapidly increased the number of communities directly engaged with DOE on programs that increased renewable energy capacity, technical knowledge and deployment of energy efficiency projects at the local level.
In addition to these initiatives, almost $17 billion of DOE’s funding will specifically target the electric grid.
The DOE noted that, “Extreme weather events like the Dixie Wildfire, Hurricane Ida, and the 2021 Texas Freeze have made it clear that our existing energy infrastructure cannot endure the impacts of climate change. Modernizing and expanding the electricity grid will make our energy sector more resilient, while enabling the buildout of affordable, reliable, clean energy.”
To this end, DOE will:
- Provide $11 billion in grants for states, Native American tribes and utilities to enhance the resilience of electric infrastructure against extreme weather, cyberattacks and other disruptive events.
- Establish a $2.5 billion Transmission Facilitation Program to help develop nationally significant transmission lines, connect regions to increase resilience and improve access to cheaper sources of clean energy.
- Support a $3 billion expansion of the Smart Grid Investment Matching Grant Program. This would focus on investments that improve the grid’s flexibility such as upgrading existing transmission and distribution systems and other actions such as deploying energy storage. These efforts will help the grid accommodate a new energy future where families and businesses often generate their own clean energy through microgrids and other distributed energy sources.