$50 billion to modernise US power grid

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The GridWise Alliance has renewed a call for significant investments to be made in the US’s transmission and distribution systems.

In a letter to the US Congressional leaders member organisations of the industry Alliance and the members of its Grid Infrastructure Advisory Council have called for at least $50 billion to improve the resilience, security and flexibility of the national grid.

Severe weather events, growing cyber threats and ageing infrastructure are among the challenges impacting the grid, the letter notes, stating that the recommendations will result in its expansion and modernisation.

The letter sets out investment requirements in seven areas with $5 billion recommended for investment in technologies including controls, sensors and storage to advance grid flexibility and $8.5 billion in technologies such as energy management systems and advanced metering infrastructure to enhance the grid integration of buildings and vehicles.

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Cybersecurity should receive $2 billion and $8 billion should be allocated to clean energy manufacturing tax credits, while utility fibre and wireless communications as the backbone of the smart grid is estimated to require $3 billion.

The largest area is resilience including microgrids and energy storage for mission-critical public infrastructure and hardening of utility infrastructure with a $23.5 billion investment proposal.

Last but not least, $500 million should be invested in the development of a 21st century grid workforce with digital high tech jobs.

“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 C. Quiniones, Chair of GridWise Alliance and President and Chief Executive Officer of the New York Power Authority.

“The organisations that have signed onto 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 letter proposes that federal funding should be directed to existing agency programmes with an established record of implementation, such as the Department of Energy’s Smart Grid Investment Grant programme, through which much of the earlier smart meter and smart grid funding was channelled.

Among other proposals are that funding should result in the large-scale deployment of technologies critical to modernising the grid.

Broadband policy proposals also should be linked to grid modernisation, both to eliminate the digital divide that prevents some consumers from taking advantage of the services of a modern grid and to leverage the critical utility communication networks.