Is the infrastructure bill good enough?
- Jun 28, 2021 5:42 pm GMT
After much haggling, a bi-partisan infrastructure bill is finally starting to take form. According to a White House fact sheet, $579 billion will be spent on infrastructure, with $73 billion going towards power infrastructure. Much of that latter sum would be invested in new transmission lines to transport renewable energy. The proposal also mentions the creation of a Grid Authority to supervise the power infrastructure projects.
This budget would be a net positive for the state of our grid, however I’m not sure how much it would move the needle. Transmission development has long lagged behind the adoption of renewables, and in recent years we’ve seen the consequences. Money never hurts, but the biggest factor holding back transmission projects has been regulatory. A 2018 report by the nonprofit Americans for a Clean Energy Grid identified 22 shovel-ready projects that had been in existence for a decade or more. To get such projects off the ground, the report’s authors suggested streamlining project siting and permitting, passing a tax credit for transmission projects, and direct investment by the federal government. Hopefully, the new Grid Authority mentioned in the White Houses’ fact sheet would address some of these problems.
It’s possible that the package’s EV allocation could negate its grid improvements. According to the current plan, the bill would allocate $7.5 billion for EV chargers, to reach the president’s goal of adding 500,000 chargers. If the new chargers had the desired impact of spurring EV adoption, there’d likely be more demand for electricity.
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