CEO’s Report: How the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act affects public power

President Joe Biden signed into law the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act on November 15. The bill includes $1.2 trillion in funding, including $550 billion in new federal spending that was not previously authorized.

The bill includes $7.5 billion in federal spending for electric and alternative fuel vehicle infrastructure, $65 billion for broadband infrastructure, $65 billion for electric and grid infrastructure, $7.5 billion for zero- and low-emission school buses and ferries, and $47.2 billion for resiliency, including cybersecurity.

The American Public Power Association will host a free webinar for members on Thursday, December 9 at 1:00 p.m. on what was included in the new law and what potential funding opportunities may be available to public power in the coming years as a result.

All Heartland customers are members of APPA and are encouraged to participate in the webinar. More information and registration details can be found on their website.

In the meantime, I would note a few opportunities of interest to public power.

Grid Infrastructure and Resiliency

Several sections of the bill are dedicated to electric grid reliability and prevention of outages.

One section would create a $5 billion grant program through Department of Energy to prevent power disruptions, or events in which the grid can’t be operated safely due to extreme weather or natural disaster.

Eligible entities would include electric grid operators, electricity generators, distribution providers and others. DOE may make grants directly to eligible entities in addition to a formula grant to be distributed to states and tribes. The program includes a small set aside of 30% for eligible entities that sell less than 4 million MWh of electricity per year. Additional information can be found here.

Another section authorizes and appropriates $5 billion for a new competitive DOE program called the “Program Upgrading our Electric Grid and Ensuring Reliability and Resiliency.” States, tribes, units of local government and public utility commissions would be eligible to apply for funding to coordinate and collaborate with the electric sector to demonstrate innovative approaches to transmission, storage, and distribution infrastructure that harden and enhance resilience and reliability.

It also appropriates $1 billion for a new DOE program to provide financial assistance to improve reliability and safety of energy in rural and remote areas defined as cities or towns with populations of 10,000 or less.

Cybersecurity

Enhanced grid security as well as rural and municipal utility cybersecurity will be a priority with this bill. One section will require DOE to carry out a program to promote and advance the physical security and cybersecurity of electric utilities, with priority provided to utilities with fewer resources.

$250 million will be available through DOE for a “Rural and Municipal Utility Advanced Cybersecurity Grant and Technical Assistance Program” to provide grants to utilities to detect, respond to, and recover from cybersecurity threats.

Charging and Fueling Infrastructure

A grant program funded at $2.5 billion will be available at the Department of Transportation to provide grants to eligible entities, including public power utilities, for the deployment of electric, hydrogen, propane or natural gas vehicle infrastructure along designated Alternative Fuel Corridors.

Entities are required to contract with a private entity for the acquisition and installation of fueling infrastructure. Fifty percent of the overall funding is set aside for “Community Grants” for which public power utilities would also be eligible. These grants do not require, but allow for, partnerships with private entities and can be used to deploy fueling infrastructure in public locations including parking facilities, public buildings, public schools and parks.

Other Funding of Note

In addition, the infrastructure bill includes $65 billion for broadband, $47 billion for climate resiliency, $21 billion for environmental projects and $2 billion for underserved rural areas.

I again encourage you to take part in the free APPA webinar on December 9.  APPA plans to hold an additional webinar in early 2022 to provide an overview of the federal grant process, including how to find and apply for grants, likely application requirements and any updates on the timeline for federal agencies to implement the infrastructure law.

Heartland staff will participate in the webinar and keep customers apprised of any developments related to the bill.