Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act - Grid Resiliency

Background

Section 40101(d) of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), also known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), enables the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to provide grants to states (including U.S. Territories) and Indian tribes to improve the resilience of their electric grids. These grants offer a unique opportunity to advance the capabilities of states and Indian tribes, and their communities, to address not only current, but future resilience needs. 

Grants to states and Indian tribes are allocated according to a formula that includes parameters such as population, land area, and the historical precedence for experiencing disruptive events.

Vermont's grid resiliency effort

According to Department of Public Service Commissioner June Tierney, "Vermont’s electric grid faces many challenges including weather-related disruptions and rapidly evolving expectations for the grid by consumers and policy makers. With the potential for more frequent, intensive, and widespread grid disturbances, greater investment is needed to forestall future disruptions and improve the grid for the long-term benefit of ratepayers."

The U.S. Department of Energy, which oversees the IIJA, requires grant applications that include criteria on which projects are selected for funding, and where “priority will be given to projects that will generate the greatest community economic benefit (whether rural or urban) in reducing the likelihood and consequences of disruptive events….”* Activities supported via this proposal must demonstrate measurable improvements in resilience and weather-related risk mitigation for the grid.

Examples of projects permitted for funding under the IIJA include utility pole management; hardening of power lines, facilities, substations, and other systems; undergrounding of electrical equipment; replacement of old overhead conductors and underground cables; and use or construction of distributed energy resources, including microgrids and battery-storage subcomponents, for enhancing system adaptive capacity during disruptive events.

Section 40101(d) of the IIJA allows for states and Indian tribes to receive grants over a five-year period in an amount consistent with a pre-determined formula – approximately $3 million per year for Vermont – for uses that meet certain criteria. 

The Vermont Department of Public Service (PSD) plans to submit the state’s application to the U.S. Department of Energy for a formula allocation of resources in September. The deadline for state applications is September 30, 2022.

 * See “Biden Administration Announces $2.3 Billion for States and Tribes to Strengthen and Modernize America’s Power Grid.”

Public input

The PSD seeks input from stakeholders and ratepayers on how the State should distribute federal funding provided under the IIJA for which projects to undertake as well as on other potential criteria that may be used to distribute the funds. 

Public hearing

The PSD held a public hearing on September 7, 2022, to obtain input from stakeholders on the Infrastructure and Investment Jobs Act (IIJA) Setion 40101(d). A recording of the public hearing, including a presentation on the U.S. Department of Energy requirements for proposals is available on YouTube. 

Written comments

Members of the public who wish to submit written comments on the objectives, metrics, and criteria for the Department's proposal may do so by Friday, September 23, 2022. Please Submit email comments to PSD.IIJAGridResilience@vermont.gov