Transmission getting its due in American Jobs Plan
- Apr 2, 2021 5:29 pm GMT
This week, the Biden Administration affirmed the importance of the grid, and high-voltage transmission specifically, as a leading opportunity to put people to work and meet our climate and clean energy goals. Transmission may be the purest form of “infrastructure” in a modern economy, it is the critical foundation of decarbonizing the power sector, and a clean power sector is the critical means of decarbonizing transportation and buildings. Studies of decarbonization show that national delivery capacity must double or triple to reach the decarbonization targets found in utility goals, state policies, and President Biden’s goal.
Correctly, the American Jobs Plan notes that transmission expansion, “will create good-paying jobs for union laborers, line workers, and electricians, in addition to creating demand for American-made building materials and parts.” As it pertains to transmission, the plan focuses on two specific proposals, as well as numerous supporting proposals which apply to infrastructure more broadly:
- “The creation of a targeted investment tax credit that incentivizes the buildout of at least 20 gigawatts of high-voltage capacity power lines… and
- Establishing a new Grid Deployment Authority at the Department of Energy that allows for better leverage of existing rights-of-way – along roads and railways – and supports creative financing tools to spur additional high priority, high-voltage transmission lines.”
The transmission tax credit and other policies in the American Jobs Plan would enable over 20 large-scale transmission projects to move forward in the near term. Right now, the biggest barrier to large-scale transmission, even more than siting and permitting, is that there is currently no functioning way to recover costs of the large scale interregional “highways” that we need, through electricity rates or otherwise. Last week, Senator Martin Heinrich (NM) introduced a transmission investment tax credit for these regionally significant transmission lines.
Similarly, grid deployment authorities have worked well at the state-level to help accelerate large-scale transmission development, such as in New Mexico, and the Department of Energy has been quite successful in the past at leveraging additional federal financial support for innovative projects. High-voltage transmission should be no different.
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