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The Year in Review

Environment, Energy, and Resources Law: The Year in Review 2023

Energy Committee Report

Ravay Smith, Taylor L Curtis, Aaron Levine, Melissa Douglas, and Elizabeth Bogle


  • The Energy Committee Report for The Year in Review 2023.
  • Summarizes significant legal developments in 2023 in the area of energy, including renewable energy projects, energy justice, the transmission grid, and more.
Energy Committee Report
Steve Proehl via Getty Images

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I. Opportunities and Challenges Associated with Developing Renewable Energy Projects

A. Wind and Solar Land Use Restrictions

In May 2023, Columbia Law School’s Sabin Center for Climate Change Law released an updated edition of its Opposition to Renewable Energy Facilities in the United States report. The report catalogs state and local restrictions to solar and wind siting. The report found that in nearly all states, local governments have enacted regulations to block or restrict solar and wind development and/or local opposition has led to the delay or cancellation of individual projects. Overall, the report identified 9 state-level restrictions, 228 local restrictions, and 293 contested projects from 1995 to 2023, including one state-level restriction, fifty-nine new local restrictions, and eighty-two new controversies adopted/occurring from March 2022 to May 2023.

In addition, an article published in Nature Energy by authors from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory identified a total of over 1,800 local-level (mostly county) wind ordinances and over 800 local-level (mostly county) solar ordinances as of the end of 2022. The article concludes that if just the identified wind and solar setback ordinances were applied across the county it could reduce wind and solar resource potential by up to 87% and 38%, respectively.

B. Updated Federal Offshore Wind Regulations

In January 2023, the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) proposed updated offshore wind regulations superseding those promulgated in 2009 via the Renewable Energy Modernization Rule. The proposed rule seeks to increase funding for decommissioning, create more flexible survey submission requirements, streamline approval of meteorological buoys, reform the auction process, and provide greater clarity on safety requirements.

In addition, in January 2023, the Department of the Interior announced a transfer of offshore wind safety and environmental responsibility requirements from BOEM to the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE). The transferred responsibilities to BSEE include oversight of safety management systems and oil spill response plans, enforcement of operational safety and environmental compliance, and decommissioning activities.

II. A circular economy for solar photovoltaics (PV) in the U.S. energy transition: a 2023 policy update

A circular economy for solar photovoltaics (PV) is considered an important strategy to alleviate U.S. supply chain constraints, reduce environmental impacts, and vital to ensuring PV continues to play a role in the zero-carbon energy transition. With calls for more than fourteen times today’s total installed PV capacity in the United States, cumulative installed capacity is expected to reach 1.75 terawatts by 2050 requiring ninety-seven million metric tons of virgin material for PV module manufacturing alone. The volume of PV modules needed to meet future demand in the United States, in conjunction with growing PV supply chain concerns, prompted a wave of new policy in 2023 to advance PV circularity, including direct funding and initiatives for PV module design, reuse, and secondary market opportunities, as well as domestic recycling and manufacturing.

President Biden’s Investing in America Agenda and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) took center stage for federal policy advancing PV circularity. Building upon 2022’s Inflation Reduction Act’s, and the CHIP and Science Act’s unprecedent investment in advanced domestic manufacturing, and recycling innovation, the U.S. Department of Energy announced a $20 million funding opportunity in 2023, including $8 million from the BIL to advance PV circularity. The funding call entitled Materials, Operation, and Recycling for Photovoltaics (MORE PV ) aims to minimize the use of PV system materials, improve system installation quality and resilience for PV systems, and streamline the reuse and recyclability of PV modules. MORE PV will also set up a Solar Partnership to Advance Recycling and Circularity to improve materials recovery and develop safe end-of-life practices for PV system components.

In regulatory news, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a plan, in October 2023, to propose new rules to improve the management and recycling of PV modules and lithium batteries. EPA is developing a proposed rule to add PV modules and to tailor hazardous universal waste (universal waste) regulatory requirements for lithium batteries. Universal waste is a subset of hazardous waste regulation created under the Federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act of 1976 program to streamline the collection and transport of certain types of hazardous waste that are commonly generated and have relatively low risk compared to other hazardous waste. Hawaii also adopted universal waste regulations for PV modules in 2023, making it the second state after California to adopt the regulatory scheme. New York and North Carolina have also considered adopting universal waste regulation for PV modules.

In other 2023 state law adoption, Illinois and Minnesota passed new legislation focused on PV circularity. Illinois’ law amends the state’s Renewable Energy Component Recycling Task Force Act requiring the task force consider the benefits of a landfill ban for renewable energy and energy storage system components, including PV modules. New Minnesota legislation enacted a requirement for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) to carry out a study on PV equipment installation and removal rates and propose management options for a statewide collection, reuse, and recycling system. The law also requires MPCA to convene a policy working group, after completion of the study, to make recommendations to Legislature for a preferred statewide system for retired PV equipment by January 2025.

Wrapping up the 2023 policy update for PV circularity includes initiatives from the voluntary sustainability and environmental quality standards community. The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) Technical Committee 82 convened world experts to study the reuse of PV modules to inform a future industry standard. The IEC 82 Standard will include testing specifications and screening protocols to assess the safe and reliable reuse of PV modules. The Sustainable Electronics Recycling International (SERI) Responsible Recycling (R2) Standard, which provides a framework and standardized criteria to aid electronic recyclers in sustainable business practices, worked to add PV modules to existing standards in 2023. The new R2 for PV modules, expected for release in 2024, establishes a hierarchy of reuse, repair, and recycling of PV modules.

III. Environmental and Energy Justice

The Biden-Harris Administration’s focus on increasing awareness and action on environmental justice and further developing the concept of energy justice was solidified with appropriations in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) of 2022. The largest single investment across the climate title of IRA was the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, a clean energy and sustainability accelerator funded at $27 billion with at least 60 percent of those funds focused on disadvantaged communities. The funding is provided to non-federal governments, as well as state or regional green banks, and is allocated across three buckets: 1) “$7 billion for zero-emission technology deployment – including rooftop and community solar – in low-income and disadvantaged communities”; 2) “$8 billion for a general fund making broad investments in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and promoting environmental justice, exclusively allocated to low-income and disadvantaged communities”; 3) “$11.97 billion for a similar general fund but available to all Americans and communities.” To further assist clean energy efforts in residential communities IRA funded a $1 billion dollar grant program that helps over the cost of energy efficiency upgrades – including electrification of systems and appliances – as well as installation of renewable energy, and improvements to property resiliency.

In 2023, the Department of Energy renamed its Office of Economic Impact and Diversity to the Office of Energy Justice and Equity (EJE). The name change represented an alignment with the Biden-Harris Administration’s long-term environmental justice and equity goals. Two of the most notable agreements developed by the DOE EJE concerning energy justice in 2023 included a $6.3 million dollar grant to Black Owners of Solar Services (BOSS) and the Low-Income Communities Bonus Credit Program. BOSS is the largest community of experienced African American energy professionals working in the solar photovoltaic space. DOE’s partnership with BOSS further advances the agency’s Justice 40 Initiative efforts by increasing equity in clean energy technology (e.g., solar and storage), stimulating clean energy enterprise creation, along with creating clean energy jobs and training for disadvantaged and underserved communities. The Low-Income Communities Bonus Credit Program was developed in partnership with the IRS and Department of Treasury to provide a 10 or 20 percentage point credit increase to the investment tax credit for qualified solar or wind energy facilities that are less than five megawatts (AC). The program allows for up to 1.8 gigawatts of eligible solar and wind capacity to be allocated in credits each year. The goals of the program are to increase access to clean energy in low-income communities, encourage new market participants, and benefit individuals and communities that have experienced adverse health or environmental effects or lacked economic opportunities.

IV. Capital Available for Funding Energy Infrastructure Projects

A. Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, Inflation Reduction Act, and 2023 Congressional Appropriations Updates

1. IIJA - Hydroelectric Incentives Programs

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), also known as the Bi-Partisan Infrastructure Law authorized funding three hydroelectric incentives programs. Section 40331 of the IIJA authorized $125 million in new incentives payments under the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct 2005) Section 242 for qualified hydroelectric facilities for electricity generated and sold. In October 2023, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced payments for calendar years 2021 and 2022, which funded sixty-six hydroelectric facilities a total of $36.7 million. Section 40332 of the IIJA authorized $75 million in new incentive payments under EPAct 2005 Section 243 for capital improvements that increase hydroelectric facility efficiency by at least 3%. DOE solicited applications from March through June 2023 and is currently in the process of selecting awardees. Section 40333 of the IIJA authorized $554 million in incentive payments for a newly created program, EPAct 2005 Section 247, for capital improvements to existing hydroelectric facilities directly related grid resiliency, dam safety, and environmental improvements. DOE solicited applications from June to October 2023 and is currently in the process of selecting awardees.

2. IIJA - Grid Resilience and Innovation Partnerships (GRIP) Program

The IIJA authorized $10.5 billion across Section 40101(c): Grid Resilience Grants; Section 40107: Smart Grid Grants; and Section 40103(b) collectively referred to as the Grid Resilience and Innovation Partnership (GRIP) Program to enhance grid flexibility and improve power system resilience against extreme weather and climate change. In October 2023, DOE announced a first round of payments with up to $3.46 billion in funding for fifty-eight projects across forty-four states. In addition, in November 2023, DOE announced a second solicitation for GRIP applications offering up to $3.9 billion across government fiscal years 2024 and 2025.

3. IIJA - Carbon Management Programs

The IIJA authorized around $7 billion for carbon management across multiple provisions, including Section 40303: Carbon Capture Technology Program ($300 million), Section 40305: Carbon Storage Validation and Testing ($2.5 billion), and Section 40308: Carbon Removal ($3.5 billion), to fund programs previously created under EPAct 2005 and the Energy Act of 2020, collectively referred to as the Carbon Management Portfolio and managed by the DOE’s Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations (OCED).

In February 2023, DOE announced a funding opportunity announcement for Carbon Capture Large-Scale Pilot projects (up to $820 million for up to ten projects) and Carbon Capture Demonstration projects (up to $1.7 billion for up to six projects). In December 2023, DOE announced up to $890 million within the Carbon Capture Demonstration projects program for three projects to demonstrate technologies designed to capture, transport, and store carbon emissions located in California, North Dakota, and Texas. DOE estimates the three projects will prevent roughly 7.75 million metric tons of CO2 emissions from being released into the atmosphere each year. DOE anticipates announcing selections for the Large-Scale Pilot projects in early 2024.

In addition, DOE announced up to $1.2 billion for two commercial-scale facilities in Texas and Louisiana under the Regional Direct Air Capture Hubs program. DOE estimates the two facilities will remove more than two million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions from the atmosphere each year.

4. IIJA - Clean Energy Demonstration on Current and Former Mine Land

Section 30432 of the IIJA authorized $500 million in funding for clean energy demonstration projects on current and former mine land, including solar; micro-grids; geothermal; direct air capture; fossil-fueled electricity generation with carbon capture, utilization, and sequestration; energy storage, including pumped storage hydropower and compressed air storage; and advanced nuclear technologies. In April 2023, DOE announced a funding opportunity for up to $450 million for clean energy demonstration projects. DOE has not yet determined when selections will be announced for this funding opportunity.

5. IIJA - Energy Improvements In Rural or Remote Areas

Section 40103(c) of the IIJA authorized $1 billion for the Energy Improvements in Rural and Remote Areas program to improve energy resilience, reliability, and affordability in communities with 10,000 or fewer inhabitants. In 2023, DOE announced several funding opportunities under the Energy Improvements in Rural and Remote Communities program.

In March 2023, DOE announced a funding opportunity for up to $300 million for community-scale ($40 million) or large-scale ($260 million) demonstration clean energy projects that benefit one or multiple rural communities, respectively. DOE anticipates announcing selections for the community-scale and large-scale demonstration clean energy projects in winter 2024.

In May 2023, DOE announced a funding opportunity of $50 million small community-driven clean energy projects requiring $500,000 to $5,000,000 under the Fixed Award Grant Program. DOE anticipates announcing selections for the Fixed Award Grant Program in March 2024.

In July 2023, DOE issued sixty-seven $100,000 prizes as part of the Energizing Rural Communities Prize Competition.

6. IIJA - Long-Duration Energy Storage Demonstrations

Section 41001 of the IIJA authorized over $500 million for programs previously created under the Energy Act of 2020 for Long-Duration Energy Storage Demonstration projects to validate new energy storage technologies. In September 2023, DOE announced selections for two funding opportunities under the Long-Duration Energy Storage Demonstrations program. DOE announced $30 million to four national laboratories with industry partners for projects greater than 100kW that can discharge ten or more hours of energy storage and projects greater than 500kW that can discharge twenty-four or more hours of energy storage. In addition, DOE announced $325 million to fifteen selectees across seventeen states and one tribal nation to accelerate the development of long duration storage technologies.

7. IIJA - Regional Clean Hydrogen Hubs and Demand-Side Support

Section 40314 of the IIJA authorized $8 billion for the Regional Clean Hydrogen Hubs program by amending EPAct 2005, which includes $7 billion to establish six to ten regional clean hydrogen hubs and $1 billion for Clean Hydrogen Hubs Demand-Side Support. In October 2023, DOE announced seven selectees across sixteen states for the Regional Clean Hydrogen Hubs program. DOE estimates the seven hydrogen hubs will collectively produce three million metric tons of hydrogen annually, which will reduce twenty-five million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions from end-uses annually. In addition, DOE announced a request for proposals for the Regional Clean Hydrogen Hubs Demand-Side Support in September 2023. DOE anticipates announcing selectees in early 2024.

8. Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023 - Distributed Energy Systems Demonstrations

The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023 authorized funding for Distributed Energy System Demonstration projects. In September 2023, DOE announced a funding opportunity for up to $50 million for transformative at-scale projects within distribution systems to enable a larger contribution from distributed energy resources. DOE anticipates announcing selections for Distributed Energy System Demonstration projects in Summer 2024.

9. IRA - EPA Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund Solar for All Program

The Inflation Reduction Act Section 60103 amended the Clean Air Act by adding Section 134, which authorized the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to implement the $27 billion Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund. Included within the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund is the $7 billion for zero emission technologies directed towards low-income and disadvantaged communities, which the EPA used to establish the Solar for All program. From June to September 2023, the EPA solicited applications for the Solar for All program, which plans to award up to sixty grants to states, territories, Tribal governments, municipalities, and nonprofits for low income distributed solar programs, such as residential rooftop solar and residential community solar. The EPA intends to start making awards under the Solar for All program in July 2024.

V. International Standards and Policies Regarding Renewables

A. EU Renewable Energy Directive

The EU in accelerating the clean energy transition revised the Renewable Energy Directive EU/2018/2001. EU/2023/2413 came into force on November 20, 2023.

EU Member States have been given an eighteen month period in which to transpose the provisions of the revised directive into national law and until July 2024 for the permitting of renewables. The revised directive’s objective is to ensure that all possibilities for the further uptake of renewables are fully utilized. The main areas of the directive include cooling and heating and transport, industry and buildings. The new directive has been designed to accommodate electric vehicles and the smart charging of same.

This revised directive is viewed as the EU Member States agreeing to an overall greener and carbon free future. The revised directive is a charge to various industry players to keep their strategies in tandem with the ongoing energy transition.

B. 2023: Solar PV dominates growth, and onshore wind additions rebound to break the 2020 record

In the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) Renewable Energy Market Update for 2023 and 2024, it reported that,

Solar PV remains the main source of global renewable capacity expansion in 2023, accounting for 65% of growth with distributed applications, including residential and commercial systems, accounting for almost half of global PV expansion. Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the global energy crisis has driven up wholesale and retail electricity prices in many parts of the world, making small solar PV systems more economically attractive for residential and commercial customers. Policy makers in many countries, especially in Europe, have been seeking options for immediate diversification away from imported fossil fuels, improving the policy environment for distributed solar PV systems that can be installed rapidly. Following two consecutive years of decline, annual global onshore wind capacity additions are expected to jump 70% in 2023 to break the 2020 record. This surge is being fueled mostly by the commissioning of projects in China that were delayed by Covid-related restrictions last year. Supply chain challenges also slowed the pace of construction in the United States and Europe, pushing project commissioning from 2022 to 2023.

C. Clean energy policies are stepping up

In the IEA’s 2023 World Energy Outlook, it reported that,

Many countries and an increasing number of businesses are committed to reaching net zero emissions. As of September 2023, net zero emissions pledges cover more than 85% of global energy-related emissions and nearly 90% of global GDP. Ninety-three countries and the European Union have pledged to meet a net zero emissions target. Moreover, governments around the world, especially in advanced economies, have responded to [...] the global energy crisis by putting forward new measures designed to promote the uptake of renewables, electric cars, heat pumps, energy efficiency, and other clean energy technologies.

VI. Transmission Grid Infrastructure

A. Introduction

In October 2023, the White House announced a historic investment of more than $30 billion dollars aimed at strengthening the nation’s electric grid infrastructure, reducing energy costs for families, and generating good-paying jobs. This significant initiative aligns with the administration's commitment to modernize the energy grid, enhance its resilience, and accelerate the transition to clean and reliable energy sources.

As part of this unprecedented effort, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) unveiled a $1.3 billion investment specifically dedicated to expanding the country’s electric transmission infrastructure. This substantial financial commitment underscores the critical importance of upgrading and expanding the transmission grid to accommodate the growing share of renewable energy sources, improve grid reliability, and facilitate the transition to a cleaner energy future. The funding provided through this program will support various transmission projects nationwide, helping to address transmission bottlenecks and modernize the grid’s infrastructure.

In addition to the DOE’s $1.3 billion investment, another significant announcement came from President Biden, who revealed a separate $3.5 billion allocation for projects across the country aimed at strengthening the electric grid and bolstering its resilience. These projects will not only enhance the grid’s capacity to withstand disruptions and extreme weather events but also contribute to the overall reliability and stability of the electrical system. This funding serves as a crucial incentive for utilities and developers to invest in grid infrastructure projects that align with the administration’s goals.

The combined efforts of these programs and investments signal a profound commitment to transforming the nation’s energy landscape. They encourage private sector involvement in the development of critical transmission lines and grid modernization efforts while supporting the broader objective of transitioning to cleaner and more sustainable energy sources. Ultimately, these initiatives aim to lower energy costs for American families, create employment opportunities, and ensure a reliable and resilient electrical grid for generations to come. Some of the highlights of the announcement are as follows:

  • Accelerating the Transition to Clean Energy: The announcement aligns with the broader national goal of transitioning to cleaner and more sustainable energy sources. By facilitating the development of transmission infrastructure that supports the integration of renewable energy, this initiative contributes to reducing carbon emissions and promoting environmental sustainability.
  • Lowering Energy Costs: A core objective is to reduce energy costs for families across the United States. By investing in grid infrastructure and modernization, the initiatives will aim to make energy more affordable and accessible to consumers.
  • Job Creation: This initiative is expected to create a substantial number of good-paying jobs across the country. By supporting transmission and grid projects, employment opportunities will be generated while advancing clean energy goals.
  • Private Sector Engagement: The initiatives will encourage private sector involvement in the development of critical transmission lines and grid modernization efforts. This partnership with the private sector helps accelerate the pace of infrastructure development.
  • Support for Environmental Goals: The announcement also underscores the commitment to addressing climate change and promoting environmental sustainability by recognizing the importance of grid modernization in achieving emissions reduction targets.
  • National Resilience: Enhancing the resilience and reliability of the electric grid is a fundamental aspect of the initiative, helping ensure that the electrical system can withstand challenges and disruptions.

This section aims to document some of the programs that are playing a critical role in bolstering the United States’ transmission infrastructure and development of a grid that not only will allow for renewable energy sources, but will also serve to be resilient against major weather related disasters.

B. Department of Energy's National Transmission Needs Study Program

The Department of Energy's National Transmission Needs Study program is a comprehensive and forward-thinking initiative designed to address the critical challenges facing the electricity transmission infrastructure throughout the United States. This program has gained prominence in light of the increasing demand for reliable and resilient energy transmission systems, especially with the growing emphasis on renewable energy sources and the modernization of the electric grid. Its primary objective is to assess the current state of the transmission grid, anticipate future energy trends, and evaluate how these changes will impact the electric grid's capacity, reliability, and efficiency.

One of the central objectives of the National Transmission Needs Study program is to provide a strategic roadmap for the upgrading and expansion of the energy and electric transmission infrastructure. This is essential to facilitate the seamless integration of clean energy sources like wind and solar power into the grid. By conducting detailed regional assessments and scenario-based analyses, the program identifies critical transmission bottlenecks and constraints. This invaluable information empowers policymakers, utilities, and industry stakeholders to make informed decisions about investments in grid infrastructure and modernization efforts.

This initiative underscores the Department of Energy's commitment to advancing the nation's energy infrastructure in a sustainable and resilient manner. Through rigorous analysis and close collaboration with industry experts, the National Transmission Needs Study program seeks to guide strategic investments, advocate for regulatory reforms, and promote technology innovation. Ultimately, its goal is to ensure that the United States possesses a reliable and efficient transmission network capable of meeting the evolving energy needs of the country.

As the United States transitions toward a more sustainable and renewable energy future, the National Transmission Needs Study program plays a pivotal role in optimizing the transmission grid’s performance. By anticipating challenges and proactively addressing them, the program aligns with the broader national goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and enhancing energy security. It serves as a valuable resource for shaping the future of the nation's electricity transmission infrastructure and ensuring a cleaner and more resilient energy landscape for generations to come.

C. Department of Energy's Coordinated Interagency Transmission Authorization and Permits Program

The Department of Energy’s Coordinated Interagency Transmission Authorization and Permits program (CITAP) is a strategic initiative aimed at accelerating the development and expansion of the electrical grid’s transmission infrastructure within the United States. CITAP’s primary objective is to streamline and expedite the permitting and authorization processes required for the construction and operation of new transmission lines. By addressing regulatory challenges and enhancing interagency coordination, CITAP seeks to facilitate the efficient deployment of critical grid infrastructure.

One of the key ways CITAP supports the build-out of the transmission infrastructure is by fostering collaboration among federal agencies, state authorities, and project developers. It establishes a framework for improved communication and coordination, reducing potential delays caused by overlapping or conflicting permitting requirements. This collaborative approach helps identify potential environmental and regulatory challenges early in the process, allowing for timely mitigation strategies and ensuring that projects can proceed smoothly.

CITAP also places a strong emphasis on enhancing the transparency and predictability of the permitting process for project developers. By providing clearer guidelines and timelines for permitting decisions, it reduces uncertainty for project developers and investors who are looking to build out timelines for their projects. This, in turn, encourages private sector investment in transmission projects, as stakeholders can have greater confidence in the regulatory process.

In addition to its focus on collaboration and transparency, CITAP seeks to leverage advanced technologies and data-driven approaches to streamline the permitting process. By harnessing data analytics and digital tools, the program aims to expedite the environmental review process and make it more efficient for everyone involved. This approach not only reduces administrative burdens but also enhances the ability to identify optimal routing and design solutions that will have the ability to potentially minimize environmental impacts from the project.

CITAP recognizes the critical role of transmission infrastructure in enabling the integration of renewable energy sources, enhancing grid reliability, and supporting the transition to a cleaner energy future. By simplifying and expediting the permitting process, fostering interagency cooperation, and embracing modern technologies, the program plays a crucial role in ensuring that the United States has a robust, resilient and efficient electrical grid capable of meeting the nation's ever evolving energy needs.

D. Department of Energy's National Interest Electric Transmission Corridors Program

The Department of Energy's National Interest Electric Transmission Corridors (NIETC) program is a significant initiative aimed at bolstering the development and expansion of the electrical grid’s transmission infrastructure in the United States. The primary focus is on identifying and designating areas where the construction of high-voltage transmission lines is of national importance. The program seeks to address the challenges related to grid reliability, capacity expansion, and the integration of renewable energy sources by streamlining the permitting process and providing incentives for infrastructure development.

One of the central objectives of the NIETC program is to identify regions where transmission congestion and bottlenecks pose a significant threat to the reliability and efficiency of the grid. By designating these areas as “national interest electric transmission corridors,” the program underscores their critical importance for ensuring the stability and resilience of the nation’s electrical infrastructure. This designation provides regulatory advantages and tools to expedite the permitting process, making it easier for transmission projects to move forward.

In addition to streamlining permitting, the NIETC program offers incentives to encourage investment in transmission infrastructure. One key incentive is the federal government’s commitment to ensuring that transmission projects within NIETCs receive timely reviews and approvals. This commitment helps reduce regulatory uncertainties, making it more attractive for private sector developers and investors to fund and undertake these projects.

Another significant incentive is the potential for federal loan guarantees and financial support for qualified projects. By providing access to capital and credit enhancements, the NIETC program helps mitigate financial risks associated with large-scale transmission investments. This, in turn, stimulates private sector involvement, fostering the development of critical transmission lines needed to support renewable energy integration and grid modernization.

Furthermore, the NIETC program promotes the use of advanced technologies and innovative solutions in the planning and deployment of transmission infrastructure. By encouraging the adoption of smart grid technologies, improved grid management systems, and efficient routing and siting strategies, the program aims to optimize the use of existing infrastructure and minimize environmental impacts, further expediting the build-out of the grid.

Overall, the NIETC program plays a pivotal role in addressing the nation’s transmission infrastructure needs. It identifies priority areas, streamlines permitting processes, offers financial incentives, and promotes technological innovation to ensure the grid can meet the challenges of integrating renewable energy sources, enhancing reliability, and supporting a sustainable and resilient energy future.

E. Inflation Reduction Act Transmission and Infrastructure Incentives

The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (the “Act”) contains a range of transmission incentives aimed at accelerating the development and expansion of the United States' electrical grid infrastructure. These incentives are designed to promote grid reliability, support the integration of renewable energy sources, and enhance energy security while addressing regulatory and financial barriers. Several key provisions within the Act offer significant incentives for transmission infrastructure projects.

One of the notable incentives under the Act is the provision for federal grants to facilitate the siting of interstate electricity transmission lines. This program, administered by the Department of Energy, aims to ensure that transmission projects are properly sited and efficiently permitted all while providing economic benefits to various impacted communities throughout the United States. These grants will aim to offset some of the costs associated with the development and permitting of transmission lines, making it more attractive for private sector developers to invest in critical infrastructure updates and new projects.

The Act also provides incentives in the form of federal loan guarantees and financial support for qualified transmission line projects. By offering access to capital and credit enhancements, the government is hoping to reduce the financial risks associated with large-scale transmission investments so as to obtain larger investments in infrastructure development from the private sector and encourage private sector involvement in not only funding of these projects but also undertaking them so as to accelerate the pace of grid expansion.

Furthermore, the Act encourages the adoption of advanced technologies and innovative solutions in transmission infrastructure planning and deployment. It promotes the use of smart grid technologies, improved grid management systems, and efficient routing and siting strategies. These advancements aim to optimize the use of existing infrastructure, minimize environmental impacts, and increase the efficiency and reliability of the grid.

To complement these incentives, the Act emphasizes the importance of enhancing the coordination between federal agencies and state authorities to streamline the permitting process for transmission projects. Improved interagency collaboration will help identify potential regulatory challenges early in the process, enabling timely mitigation strategies and smoother project development for transmission and infrastructure projects.

Moreover, the Act recognizes the vital role that transmission infrastructure plays in supporting the integration of renewable energy sources. By streamlining the permitting process, offering financial incentives, and promoting technological innovation, the Act aligns with the broader national goal of transitioning to a cleaner and more sustainable energy future.

Overall, the Act offers a comprehensive set of incentives aimed at expediting the development and expansion of the electrical grid's transmission infrastructure. These incentives range from federal grants to loan guarantees, and are designed to address regulatory, financial, and technological barriers associated with transmission infrastructure project development while supporting the integration of renewable energy sources into transmission infrastructure and enhancing grid reliability and resiliency.

F. Department of Energy’s Transmission Facilitation Program

The Department of Energy’s Transmission Facilitation Program is a critical initiative aimed at promoting the development and expansion of the United States’ transmission infrastructure. This program plays a pivotal role in addressing the challenges associated with modernizing the electrical grid, accommodating the integration of renewable energy sources, and enhancing overall grid reliability and resilience.

The Transmission Facilitation Program is designed to provide essential resources, technical assistance, and expertise to support the planning, permitting, and deployment of transmission infrastructure projects. It serves as a valuable partner for states, utilities, and developers looking to advance critical transmission lines and associated grid enhancements. By offering guidance and support, the program helps streamline the development process, reducing regulatory hurdles and facilitating the efficient siting and permitting of transmission projects.

One of the program’s primary objectives is to accelerate the transition to cleaner energy sources. By aiding in the planning and execution of transmission projects that enable the transport of renewable energy from generation hubs to demand centers, the program aligns with the broader national goal of achieving a sustainable and resilient energy future. This supports the integration of wind, solar, and other clean energy sources into the grid, reducing carbon emissions and promoting environmental sustainability.

Overall, the Transmission Facilitation Program represents a vital component of the Department of Energy’s efforts to modernize the electrical grid and foster a more reliable, efficient, and sustainable energy system. By providing technical assistance and resources, it empowers stakeholders to navigate the complexities of transmission project development while advancing the nation’s clean energy goals and ensuring a robust and resilient electrical grid for years to come.

G. Investment into the United States’ States and Tribes

1. Department of Energy’s Grid Resilience and Innovation Partnerships Program

The Department of Energy’s Grid Resilience and Innovation Partnerships (GRIP) Program, overseen by the Grid Deployment Office (GDO), represents a critical effort to modernize and fortify the electric grid in the United States. This initiative, part of President Biden's Investing in America agenda, allocates a substantial $3.46 billion in its first round of selections, out of a broader $10.5 billion GRIP Program, to enhance grid resilience, flexibility, and reliability. The program aims to mitigate the impacts of natural disasters, extreme weather events exacerbated by climate change, and faults that can lead to wildfires. It also focuses on unlocking the potential of clean energy sources like solar and wind while fostering innovation in electricity transmission, storage, and distribution.

A notable aspect of the GRIP Program is its commitment to Justice40, ensuring that all selected projects benefit disadvantaged communities. Additionally, the program emphasizes collaboration with labor unions, with 86 percent of the selected projects involving labor union partnerships or collective bargaining agreements, supporting job creation and community resilience.

In October of 2023, the first round of projects were announced. The selected projects span several states, each tailored to address region-specific challenges. The following are a few of the projects noted:

  • Georgia: A transformative project in Georgia, with an investment exceeding $507 million, will update smart grid infrastructure, implement battery storage, local microgrids, and new transmission lines. Focusing on historically underinvested communities, it aims to improve service reliability, reduce power outages, lower energy bills for low-income households, and create more than 140 construction jobs.
  • Louisiana: Entergy New Orleans has a project in which they are focusing on grid resilience enhancements, including hardening transmission lines, reducing outage frequency and duration, and deploying battery backup systems.
  • Oregon: Multiple projects across Oregon will connect renewable resources east of the Cascade Mountains, including on the Warm Springs Reservation, to customers. Additionally, grid-edge computing platforms and wildfire resilience infrastructure will be deployed to improve grid reliability and reduce outage duration.

Additionally, various inter-regional collaborations were announced that will expand transmission infrastructure across multiple states, fostering renewable energy generation, lowering energy costs, and enhancing community engagement and workforce development. One of note is the Joint Targeted Interconnection Queue Transmission Study Process and Portfolio (JTIQ) which will coordinate the construction of five transmission projects across seven states (Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, Minnesota, Missouri, and South Dakota).

In summary, the GRIP Program is a significant step toward a more resilient, reliable, and sustainable U.S. electric grid. By investing in various states and fostering partnerships, it supports clean energy integration, job creation, and community resilience, aligning with the administration's broader clean energy and climate goals.

2. Grid Resilience State/Tribal Formula Grant Program

The Grid Resilience State/Tribal Formula Grant Program, managed by the Department of Energy’s Grid Deployment Office, is a critical initiative aimed at enhancing the resilience of state and tribal electrical grids. This program focuses on strengthening the electric grid's ability to withstand disruptions caused by natural disasters, extreme weather events, and other threats. It plays a pivotal role in modernizing the grid and ensuring the reliable delivery of electricity to communities across the United States.

Under the Grid Resilience State/Tribal Formula Grant Program, states and tribal nations receive financial support to invest in grid resilience projects. These projects aim to reduce the impact of grid disruptions and enhance the system's ability to quickly recover from adverse events. By providing funding to both states and tribal nations, the program promotes a holistic approach to grid resilience, acknowledging the unique challenges faced by different regions.

Notably, the program places a strong emphasis on tribal nations' involvement and resilience. Several key points related to tribal nations in the program include:

  • Tribal Formula Grants: The program allocates a portion of its funding specifically to tribal nations, recognizing their importance in the broader grid resilience efforts. Tribal nations receive dedicated financial support to implement projects that enhance the resilience of their electrical grids.
  • Community Resilience: The program encourages tribal nations to invest in projects that improve community resilience. This includes initiatives to strengthen the grid, deploy distributed energy resources, and enhance emergency response capabilities, ensuring tribal communities can better withstand and recover from disruptions.
  • Collaboration: Tribal nations are encouraged to collaborate with federal, state, and local entities to maximize the effectiveness of grid resilience projects. By fostering partnerships and knowledge-sharing, the program aims to create a more robust and interconnected grid infrastructure.

During the 2022/2023 grant year, forty-nine tribal entities were awarded over $15 million in funding to address grid resiliency and transmission infrastructure issues. Some of the notable grants went to the following tribal entities:

  • Aroostook Band of Micmacs: Grant funding will go towards modernization of the grid infrastructure and improvement of failing infrastructure.
  • Miccosukee Tribe of Indians: Award monies will update infrastructure and communications to enhance local grid control so as to avoid disruptions to energy output.
  • Washoe Tribe of Nevada & California (Carson Colony, Dresslerville Colony, Woodfords Community, Stewart Community, & Washoe Ranches): Funding will support modernizing grid infrastructure and investments in clean energy.

In summary, the Grid Resilience State/Tribal Formula Grant Program is a vital tool for improving the resilience of electrical grids across the United States, including tribal nations. By providing financial support and fostering collaboration, the program helps strengthen grid infrastructure, reduce vulnerabilities to disruptions, and enhance the overall reliability of the nation’s electricity supply.