Infrastructure Bill Strongly Supports Advanced Conductors

By David Townley, Director Public Policy, CTC Global Corporation

The $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), also called the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), was signed 11/15/2021 and includes funding to help utilities upgrade their existing transmission infrastructure and build new transmission infrastructure.  Three of the four transmission programs, described below, include Advanced Conductors explicitly as recipients of the Programs.

Section 40101:  Preventing Outages and Enhancing the Resilience of the Electric Grid

  • ·       $5 billion ($1 billion/yr) for a competitive Grant Program with $2.5 billion administered by DOE and $2.5 billion by states, territories, and tribes.
  • ·       30% set aside for small utilities (<6 million MWh/yr).
  • ·       The law lists a number of activities on which the grants can be applied and Advanced Conductors can be used for many activities.  The law specifies advanced conductors, like ACCC®, can receive a grant for “the reconductoring of power lines with low-sag, Advanced Conductors”, especially in wildfire risk areas.

Section 40103:  Electric Grid Reliability & Resilience Research, Development, & Demonstration

  • ·       $5 billion ($1 billion/yr) for DOE grants to state and local governments, state public utility commissions, and Indian Tribes to collaborate with electric sector owners and operators on “innovative approaches…to harden and enhance resilience and reliability.”
  • ·       Specifically targeted to help states develop resilience programs in coordination with municipal & rural electric cooperative entities “on a cost-shared basis.”
  • ·       Additional $1 billion ($200M/yr over 5 years) to help rural and remote areas to upgrade T&D, reduce GHG, modernize the grid, increase energy efficiency.

Section 40106:  Transmission Facilitation Program

  • ·       $2.5 billion revolving loan fund for large transmission projects: new projects with 1,000+ MW transfer capacity and upgrades that achieve 500+ MW transfer capacity.
  • ·       Prioritizes projects that: (A) use technology that enhances capacity, efficiency, resilience, or reliability, of an electric power transmission system including – (1) reconductoring of an existing electric transmission line with Advanced Conductor … ; (B) improves resilience and reliability; (C) facilitate interregional transfer capability…; and (D) … that lowers GHG emissions.

Section 40107:  Deployment of Technologies to Enhance Grid Flexibility (Smart Grid Investment)

  • ·       $3 billion ($600 million/yr) in matching grants to transmission owners and developers covering up to 50 percent of the costs associated with qualifying “Smart Grid investments” – specifically including Advanced Conductors, like ACCC®
  • ·       The law states that grant funding is provided “to cover expenditures related to the purchase and installation of . . . advanced transmission technologies [specifically naming Advanced Conductors] . . . applied to existing transmission facilities that increase the operational transfer capacity of a transmission network.”

DOE will be administering these Transmission IIJA Programs.  DOE will issue a Notice of Intent (NOI) for each Programs describing how they would administer the program, what information and data would be required of an applicant, and the proposed timeline of the program.  To date, DOE has issued a NOI (with a Request for Information) for the Transmission Facilitation Program and a Request for Information for part of the Enhancing the Resilience of the Electric Grid.  The NOIs for the Grid Resilience, and Grid Flexibility Programs (Sections 40101, 40103, and 40107) are expected to be issued by DOE in the Summer with the solicitations for projects by end-of-year.

For the Transmission Facilitation Program, following receipt of comments on the NOI/RFI, DOE is expected to issue a solicitation by September.  The preferred applicants will be very large 1,000 MW new line projects and large 500 MW upgrades that are “far along” on the permitting & siting process but have not yet begun construction.  DOE will only offer capacity contracts in this first solicitation as a way to get transmission projects moving final funding and into construction.

The IIJA has created a tremendous opportunity for Advanced Conductor selection for near-term Transmission Projects.  ACCC® Conductor, with the highest installation rate worldwide of any Advanced Conductor, has a great opportunity to satisfy many more U.S. transmission project developers as well as electric consumers with its high-efficiency, high-capacity, cost effective performance. ACCC® Conductor, especially when reconductoring on existing transmission structures can rapidly expand transmission capacity cost-effectively so that large amounts of RE can be interconnected to the grid and accelerate decarbonization.

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