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1) May 3 -- Notice of Request for Information on Formula Grants to States and Indian Tribes for Preventing Outages and Enhancing the Resilience of the Electric Grid

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE or the Department) invites public comment on its request for information (RFI) regarding formula grants to be awarded to States and Indian Tribes to support investments for preventing outages and enhancing the resilience of the electric grid. The purpose of the RFI is to collect stakeholder feedback to inform DOE's structuring of such formula grants to States and Indian Tribes, with funding made available through a provision of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Responses to the RFI must be received by no later than 11:59 p.m. EDT on June 2, 2022.

Section 40101(d) of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) (Pub. L. 117-58), codified at 42 U.S.C. 18711(d), directs the Secretary of Energy (Secretary) to establish a formula grant program to provide funds to States and Indian Tribes to support investments for preventing outages and enhancing the resilience of the electric grid. Under section 40101(d), the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE or the Department) is authorized to provide up to $459 million annually over a five-year period (for Fiscal Years 2022 through 2026) to States and Indian Tribes according to an award formula based on five statutorily defined factors. States and Indian Tribes are required to submit annual applications to DOE to receive funding.

The Department seeks input, in the form of comments and questions, from all stakeholders on DOE's plans for implementing section 40101(d), including on the application and award requirements, the award formula allocation, and the technical assistance approach. Documents that provide this information are located at: https://netl.doe.gov/​bilhub/​grid-resilience/​formula-grants.

These documents are:

1. Section 40101(d) Formula Grant Program Notice of Intent (NOI),
2. Draft Section 40101(d) Formula Grant Administrative and Legal Requirements Document (ALRD), and
3. Draft Allocation of Funds under the IIJA Section 40101(d)—Formula Grant Program.

In addition, the Department would appreciate responses from States and Indian Tribes to the following questions:

1. What are the specific challenges you anticipate with regard to providing the Program Narrative outlined in Appendix A of the NOI, if any?

2. What are the areas in which you would most appreciate receiving technical assistance? In addition, what approaches for providing technical assistance would be most helpful to you? The NOI includes a discussion on technical assistance.

3. What additional data sources are you aware of that may help DOE prepare the award formula?

RFI: https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2022-09445

2) Apr 27 -- Biden Administration Launches $2.3 Billion Program to Strengthen and Modernize America's Power Grid

DOE Seeks Feedback on President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Investments to Build Stronger State and Tribal Electricity Grids Resilient to Climate Change

The Biden-Harris Administration through the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today released a Request for Information seeking public input on the structure of an approximately $2.3 billion formula grant program to strengthen and modernize America’s power grid against wildfires, extreme weather, and other natural disasters exacerbated by the climate crisis. The new program, established by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and administered through DOE’s new Building a Better Grid Initiative, will assist States and Tribal nations with projects that create good-paying jobs to deliver clean, affordable, and reliable energy to everyone, everywhere, anytime. A reliable, resilient electric grid is critical for withstanding climate change impacts and to achieving President Biden’s goal of a national grid run on a 100% clean electricity by 2035.

“There is no question that a modernized grid is the linchpin to President Biden’s goal of a nation powered by reliable, renewable clean energy,” said Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “The President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law grid investments will help provide the American people with resilient electricity generation regardless of a lightning strike or an extreme weather event.”

Power outages from severe weather have doubled over the past two decades across the U.S. and the frequency and length of power failures reached their highest levels since reliability tracking began in 2013 — with U.S. customers on average experiencing more than eight hours of outages in 2020.

Infrastructure investments will help address these concerns by improving grid reliability and increasing resilience in the face of extreme weather events and natural disasters. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s program, Preventing Outages and Enhancing the Resilience of the Electric Grid, will provide grants based on a formula that includes, among other things, population size, land area, probability and severity of disruptive events, and a locality’s historical expenditures on mitigation efforts.

Grid modernization activities could include:

Utility pole upkeep and removal of trees and other vegetation affecting grid performance
Undergrounding electrical equipment
Relocating or reconductoring powerlines
Improvements to make the grid resistant to extreme weather
Increasing fire resistant components
Implementing monitoring, controls, and advanced modeling for real-time situational awareness
Integrating distributed energy resources like microgrids and energy storage
 
The new program will ask applicants to describe the concrete outcomes they intend to seek and commit to specific progress metrics like reducing or shortening outages from severe events or by reducing risks to health and safety from such outages. Applicants will also be asked to present objectives and metrics for workforce engagement, high labor standards, and quality job creation. Furthermore, the program will award funding to a diverse set of populations, including underserved and disadvantaged communities, following through on the Biden Administration’s Justice40 commitment to provide 40% of the benefits from climate investments to frontline communities.

The Request for Information seeks feedback from stakeholders to inform DOE’s structuring of the formula grants. Specific feedback is requested about anticipated application challenges, technical assistance support, and other critical data sources. [The Department seeks input, in the form of comments and questions, from all stakeholders on DOE’s plans for implementing section 40101(d), including on the application and award requirements, the award formula allocation, and the technical assistance approach.]

The Building a Better Grid Initiative, also enabled by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, is working to catalyze the nationwide development of new and upgraded electric transmission lines. Through the Building a Better Grid Initiative, DOE is deploying more than $20 billion in federal financing tools, including through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s new $2.5 billion Transmission Facilitation Program, $3 billion expansion of the Smart Grid Investment Grant Program, and more than $10 billion in grants for States, Tribes, and utilities to enhance grid resilience and prevent power outages, and through existing tools, including the more than $3 billion Western Area Power Administration Transmission Infrastructure Program, and a number of loan guarantee programs through the Loan Programs Office.

DOE is requesting feedback on the formula grant program Notice of Intent, draft application and award requirements, and draft award formula allocation. Comments must be received by June 2 and can be submitted by emailing 40101formulagrants@hq.doe.gov.

A public webinar will be held on May 5, 2022, from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. ET to provide additional information. Registration required.

Press release: https://www.energy.gov/articles/biden-administration-launches-23-billion-program-strengthen-and-modernize-americas-power
Section 40101(d) Formula Grant Program of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL): https://netl.doe.gov/bilhub/grid-resilience/formula-grants

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