Explaining the Federal-State Modern Grid Deployment Initiative

Explaining the Federal-State Modern Grid Deployment Initiative

A new joint venture between the federal government and 21 states aims to address the growing needs for modernizing the U.S. electrical grid.

Announced on May 28, the Federal-State Modern Grid Deployment Initiative is an effort to accelerate improvements to our electric transmission and distribution network to meet the country’s stated goals of affordable, clean, reliable, and resilient power.

Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Washington, and Wisconsin have committed to participate in the initiative, which, according to a White House Fact Sheet, means they’ll “prioritize efforts that support the adoption of modern grid solutions to expand grid capacity and build modern grid capabilities on both new and existing transmission and distribution lines.”

The White House and Department of Energy announced the new initiative at a summit for states, industry groups, and electric regulators.

“...the initiative aims to bring together states, federal entities, and power sector stakeholders to help drive grid adaption quickly and cost-effectively to meet the challenges and opportunities that the power sector faces in the twenty-first century,” the White House said in the fact sheet.

Two construction workers point up at an electrical tower.
A new joint venture between the federal government and 21 states aims to address the growing needs for modernizing the U.S. electrical grid.

Mutual Federal-State Commitments

Through this initiative, these states and the federal government jointly commit to:

  • Explore ways to accelerate the near-term deployment of more advanced, commercially available grid technologies to expand grid capacity and build modern grid capabilities on both new and existing transmission and distribution lines
  • Recognize that the deployment of modern grid technologies is part of a holistic energy strategy, complementing the need to build out new transmission and distribution lines
  • Recognize that there will not be a “one-size-fits-all” approach to maximizing the opportunities and overcoming the challenges each state may be facing with their grid
  • Work to increase state and Federal cooperation for both intraregional and interregional transmission planning efforts across regions, including Regional Transmission Organizations and Independent Service Operators
  • Work collaboratively with solution providers, industry, labor organizations, and trusted validators to build a diverse workforce and ensure grid owners and operators have access to the training and equipment needed to support modern technology deployment
  • Work to provide opportunities for stakeholders and communities within and across regions to share how to most effectively improve siting, regulatory, and economic structures
  • Explore opportunities to establish innovative partnership models, pool resources, and jointly plan transmission and distribution infrastructure development

State Commitments

State governments commit to:

  • Prioritize or accelerate efforts that support the adoption of modern grid solutions to cost-effectively meet growing electric grid needs, including efforts that increase capacity and maximize utilization of existing infrastructure
  • Explore opportunities at the executive and legislative levels to address capacity challenges facing the grid in an expedient manner
  • Explore pathways to facilitate adoption of high-performance conductors and grid enhancing technologies, which may include considering these technologies in grid planning, financial incentives, performance standards, and updated cost-effectiveness criteria
  • Maximize the use of available Federal financial and technical assistance
  • Help assess and communicate the potential benefits of modern grid technologies to partners and stakeholders within and across states, including local governments and the public
  • Share successes, challenges, lessons learned, and best practices with other states

Federal Commitments

The federal government commits to:

  • Maintain the national focus on grid innovation and promote awareness of power challenges as a strategic and economic priority nationwide
  • Ensure Federal agencies and lawmakers are informed of the value and opportunities created by grid innovation, and the criticality of reform
  • Make technical assistance programs available from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Grid Deployment Office, Office of Electricity, and National Labs for regions and states that are seeking additional support. This can also include assistance with decision frameworks between technologies and policies
  • Ensure states are aware of available financial assistance resources to support local projects, such as competitive funding from U.S. Department of Energy’s Grid Resilience and Innovation Partnership program (GRIP) and low-cost loans from the Title 17 Energy Infrastructure Reinvestment program
  • Encourage Power Marketing Administrations to consider modern grid technologies and collaborate with related power authorities in the regions they respectively serve
  • Promote ongoing dialogue between partner states, industry leaders, labor organizations, and trusted technical validators (domestically and globally) to explore strategies to accelerate deployment
  • Continue to source, track, evaluate, and disseminate information on state-of-the-art technologies and policies

Growing Grid Concerns

The initiative was announced following a Memorial Day weekend which saw severe storms leave at least 19 Americans dead and knock out power for hundreds of thousands more across the South and Midwest.

Nonprofit research group Climate Central found that weather-related major U.S. power outages are on the rise. While overhead power lines will always be at risk of damage from severe winds and lightning strikes, stronger storms are putting more pressure on this aged infrastructure.

“Of all major U.S. power outages reported from 2000 to 2023, 80% (1,755) were due to weather,” reads Climate Central’s website. “Many types of extreme weather are becoming more frequent or intense because of human-caused climate change. These events put stress on aging energy infrastructure and are among the leading causes of major power outages in the U.S. The nation’s electrical grid wasn’t built for the present-day climate.”

While the U.S. is increasingly turning to modern, clean energy solutions, our current grid infrastructure can’t handle the power. There is more electricity from solar power alone waiting to get on the grid than the entire amount of energy currently on the grid.

“We are investing tens of billions – the most significant public investment in a generation – to strengthen our grid to prevent power outages in the face of extreme weather, bolster U.S. energy security, and drive innovation,” White House national climate advisor Ali Zaldi said in a statement to CNN.

Keeping Infrastructure Projects On Time, On Budget, and Safe

When it comes to infrastructure projects, success is often determined well before the first shovel goes in the ground.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Can GPRS locate PVC piping and other non-conductive utilities?

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