Biden administration offers $8.25 billion in loans for power grid

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FILE PHOTO: Overhead power lines are seen during record-breaking temperatures in Houston, Texas

By Timothy Gardner

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The U.S. Energy Department said on Tuesday it is offering up to $8.25 billion in loans for companies to boost the power grid as part of the Biden administration’s goal to set the country on a path to 100% clean energy by 2035.

The department is making financing available for projects that improve resilience and expand transmission capacity across the grid, “so we can reliably move clean energy from places where it’s produced to places where it’s needed most,” Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said.

The financing will be available in two pools. The Loan Programs Office, or LPO, at the Energy Department is seeking applications for up to $5 billion in loan guarantees to support innovative transmission projects, along with transmission projects owned by federally recognized tribal nations or Alaska Native Corporations.

Those projects will include high-voltage lines, transmission to connect offshore wind, and facilities sited along rail and highway routes.

Up to $3.25 billion will be available from the Western Area Power Administration’s Transmission Infrastructure Program revolving loan program. The federal debt financing program is congressionally mandated to support transmission and related infrastructure projects that facilitate the delivery of clean power in the U.S. West.

The LPO has more than $40 billion in funds left over after the financing went mostly unused during the Trump administration. It has nearly $18 billion in direct loan authority to support manufacturing of fuel-efficient, advanced technology vehicles and components.

The Transportation Department issued guidelines https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/real_estate/right-of-way/corridor_management/alternative_uses_guidance.cfm to help state governments host transmission lines, build renewable energy projects, deploy broadband and support electric vehicle charging along highway rights-of-way.

The guidance “will help states use their rights-of-way to expand clean energy, lower costs, and create good-paying jobs in their communities,” said Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “Today’s actions can provide a model for our private partners, like railroads, to do the same.”

(Reporting by Timothy Gardner; Editing by Andrea Ricci and Peter Cooney)

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