DOE to award $300M to states, local governments to accelerate siting, permitting

Published on August 31, 2023 by Dave Kovaleski

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The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) will award up to $300 million in grants for states, tribes, and local governments to accelerate and strengthen electric transmission siting and permitting processes.

The Transmission Siting and Economic Development (TSED) grant program — supported by the Inflation Reduction Act — is a new initiative designed to overcome state and local challenges to expanding transmission capacity. Accelerated construction of new electric transmission infrastructure is essential to ensure the deployment of reliable and affordable energy for consumers and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

“To meet our ambitious clean energy goals, we need to expand the nation’s transmission capacity by 60% over the next seven years,” U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm said. “Now, thanks to President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, we have the funding to build out a grid chock-full of clean, cheap, reliable electricity and accelerate transmission expansion while creating good-paying jobs across the country.”

Independent estimates project that transmission systems will need to expand by 60 percent by 2030 and may need to triple by 2050 in order to meet the country’s growing clean electricity and resiliency demands. The TSED grant program will provide financial support to state, tribal, and local entities that are responsible for issuing the permits needed to move forward with electric transmission projects.

The money can be used to fund studies, modeling, environmental planning, and analysis to assess alternatives, better inform decision making, and reduce the time it takes to process applications. They can also be used for energy investments such as resilient microgrids, renewable power integration, or electric vehicle charging infrastructure. In addition, they can be deployed to support essential community facilities for public safety, healthcare, education, and improved transit; investing in community centers and creating green spaces; or job training and apprenticeship programs.

While transmission developers are not eligible for TSED grants, they can be key partners. For example, they might work with siting and permitting agencies to propose innovative solutions to improve cross-jurisdictional coordination, strengthen permitting processes, and resolve permitting bottlenecks, among other things.

The DOE said that the TSED grant program is not intended to replace developer-funded community benefits programs. It is intended to be additive, encourage innovation, and be driven directly by communities and their needs.

Applicants are required to express an interest in applying for funds by submitting concept papers no later than Oct. 31 at 5 pm ET. Full applications will be due April 5, 2024 at 5 pm ET.