GridWise calls for $50bn to update US electric grid

  • July 13, 2021
  • Steve Rogerson

The GridWise Alliance has sent a letter to the US government urging it to spend at least $50bn modernising the USA’s electric power transmission and distribution systems.

Thirty-seven participants in the Grid Infrastructure Advisory Council, created by GridWise Alliance earlier this year, and GridWise member organisations signed the two-page request, which offers recommendations on how investments in the nation’s electric system will make the grid more resilient, secure and flexible.

Collectively, the signatories on the letter represent $4tn of market capital, employ 1.6 million people in the USA and represent 825,000 union workers.

“The US electric grid is our primary platform to achieve net-zero energy goals, create good-paying jobs and support a transition to a clean energy economy,” said Gil Quiniones, chair of the GridWise Alliance and CEO of the New York Power Authority, the largest state-owned electric utility in the USA. “The organisations that have signed this letter are leading our energy transformation and collectively represent the varied elements of our vast electric power system. They understand the vital role that federal financing will play in ensuring the US energy sector paves the way for a clean energy future.”

The GridWise proposal would direct federal funding to existing agency programmes with established records of implementing congressional appropriations or tax incentives that can accelerate the deployment of grid-enhancing technologies and the training of a diverse workforce. The goals of the proposed $50bn investment in grid modernisation include:

  • Deploying technologies to enhance grid flexibility to integrate variable renewable resources and relieve transmission constraints.
  • Deploying technologies to enhance grid integration of buildings and electric vehicles.
  • Enhancing grid cyber security and growing the cyber workforce.
  • Reinvigorating the Section 48c domestic manufacturing tax credit and include grid-enhancing technologies.
  • Modernising utility communication networks to serve as the backbone of the smart grid and, where possible, leveraging investments to provide broadband service.
  • Strengthening resilience for critical infrastructure, including microgrids and storage for mission-critical public infrastructure and hardening utility infrastructure.
  • Expanding training, retraining and other programmes to create a diverse pool of workers ready to take advantage of the digital, high tech grid jobs that will be created with grid investment funding.

“This is a critical time for our nation’s power grid as a transition to new energy resources and increased reliability is demanded in all segments of the energy system,” said GridWise Alliance CEO Karen Wayland. “Grid modernisation investments are essential to meet the goals of decarbonisation, enhanced grid reliability and resilience, and affordability and equity. GridWise members continue to lead through example, developing our recommendations in a collaborative process with industry stakeholders. We look forward to working with Congress and the White House to on grid investments in any infrastructure legislation.”

The letter was submitted today to US president Joe Biden, vice president Kamala Harris and congressional leadership.

The GridWise Alliance represents the stakeholders that design, build and operate the electric grid. Since 2003, it has been educating industry stakeholders on the critical need to modernise the USA’s electricity system.