Electricity Transmission in the U.S. – Legal Issues and Trends

The U.S. electricity transmission infrastructure is undergoing historic change; a short, upfront look at current and projected investment activity provides a sense of the scale and impact. Under the auspice of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, the Department of Energy is authorized to award nearly $38 billion in grants – and make or guarantee $127 billion in loans – over the next few years to modernize the United States’ energy infrastructure and pursue a more independent national energy policy. Roughly 14% of the authorized grant money, or $4.5 billion, is specifically directed towards Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, a category focused on upgrading the U.S. electricity transmission grid. In practice, many of those grants are to be matched, dollar for dollar, by private investment. Similar priorities are reflected in the regular budget process as illustrated by the 2011 fiscal budget which features a 6.8 percent increase for the Department of Energy’s budget, to $28.4 billion, and a 5 percent increase for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, to $2.36 billion.

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