New Biden Initiative Aims to ‘Bolster America’s Power Grid’

21 states are taking part in the initiative to modernize the grid and accommodate the growing demand for renewable fuel.
New Biden Initiative Aims to ‘Bolster America’s Power Grid’
President Joe Biden speaks at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York state, on May 25, 2024. (Madalina Vasiliu/The Epoch Times)
Naveen Athrappully

The Biden administration launched an initiative on Tuesday to “bolster America’s power grid” by improving the country’s power grid infrastructure and preparing it for better integration with renewable energy sources.

The Federal-State Modern Grid Deployment Initiative aims to “bring together states, federal entities, and power sector stakeholders to help drive grid adaptation quickly and cost-effectively to meet the challenges and opportunities that the power sector faces in the twenty-first century,” according to a May 28 White House fact sheet.

So far, 21 states have committed to the initiative, vowing to prioritize capacity expansion and the building of modern grid capabilities for both existing and new transmission and distribution lines.

Bolstering the U.S. power grid is part of President Biden’s climate change policies. In the Federal-State Modern Grid Deployment Initiative, the 21 states committed to increasing grid resilience to “the growing impacts of climate change.”

The U.S. Climate Alliance, a coalition of 24 governors who back America’s “net-zero future,” will assist the states in achieving its climate-related commitments.
The coalition was formed after former President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the Paris Agreement. The group was launched by Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington and former governors Andrew Cuomo of New York and Jerry Brown of California, all of whom are Democrats.
Nineteen states in the coalition have set a target of achieving 100 percent “clean electricity.”

The White House noted that the initiative moves away from the historical practice of setting up transmission lines to boost grid capacity toward the modernization of the power systems.

For instance, high-performance conductors can carry at least twice the power of conventional conductors. Grid-enhancing technologies maximize electricity transmission across the existing system through sensors, analytical tools, and power flow control devices.

“Deploying these tools means that renewables and other clean sources of power can be integrated sooner and more cost-effectively than waiting for new transmission construction, which will address load growth challenges more rapidly, create good-paying jobs, and lower Americans’ utility bills,” according to the White House.

The 21 states participating in the initiative are 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.

Viability of the Renewable Grid

Solar and wind energy are intermittent and do not generate consistent power, as electricity generation depends on variables such as sunlight and wind conditions. The lack of reliability is an issue for U.S. households when considering the push for greater integration of renewable energy into the U.S. power grid.
The Biden administration has set aside $30 billion from the Inflation Reduction Act and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for upgrading America’s electric grid, which it calls the “largest investment in grid infrastructure in history.”

The $30 billion is only a fraction of the trillions required to make the U.S. power grid ready for renewable energy. A 2019 estimate by Wood Mackenzie put the cost of decarbonizing the U.S. power grid at $4.5 trillion.

A recent report by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) warned that certain parts of the United States may face difficulties in meeting electricity demand during the summer season, with renewable energy sources like wind and solar power posing a potential risk to reliable power supply.

The Texas RE ERCOT (Electric Reliability Council of Texas) interconnection, which handles approximately 90 percent of Texas’ electrical load, faces potential emergency conditions in summer evening hours “when solar generation begins to ramp down,” it said.

Michelle Bloodworth, the CEO of America’s Power, a partnership of industries involved in producing electricity from coal, said the NERC assessment reveals that the U.S. electricity grid is “increasingly reliant on weather-dependent sources of electricity” like solar and wind power.

This puts “one-third of the country at elevated risk of blackouts this summer,” she said. “Delayed coal plant retirements are playing a key role in supporting grid reliability. However, this is only a temporary band-aid because EPA regulations will cause more coal retirements that cannot be delayed. These regulations, especially the recently announced Carbon Rule, increase the chance of blackouts.”

Last month, the administration announced a public-private mobilization to upgrade 100,000 miles of existing lines over the next five years. For this purpose, the government is accelerating permitting, and funding the deployment of advanced grid technologies.

All of these programs seek to advance President Biden’s Justice40 Initiative which has a goal of ensuring that 40 percent of overall benefits of certain federal programs related to climate, clean energy, affordable and sustainable housing, and other investments go to “disadvantaged communities,” the White House said.

Naveen Athrappully is a news reporter covering business and world events at The Epoch Times.