House Climate Bill Includes Billions for Microgrid Funding

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A sweeping climate bill introduced in the US House of Representatives this week includes billions in microgrid funding.

microgrid funding

By ParabolStudio/

The CLEAN Future Act authorizes $565 billion in spending to cut greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050, with an interim target of reducing carbon pollution by 50% from 2005 levels by the end of this decade.

The bill, H.R. 1512, introduced March 2, requires utilities to sell increasing amounts of carbon-free electricity until the power sector is fossil-fuel free by 2035. This is in line with a goal set by President Joe Biden.

The legislation builds on a draft bill House Democrats released in January 2020.

The 981-page bill creates a zero-emissions credit trading program, aims to bolster transmission development, supports electric vehicles and promotes energy efficiency measures. It also has specific provisions focused on microgrids. 

$1.5 billion microgrid grant program

For example, the bill requires the Department of Energy (DOE) to set up a program to provide funding for technical aid, community outreach and project development for clean energy microgrid projects that increase resilience to climate change risks.

The bill authorizes $1.5 billion a year for grants for clean energy microgrid projects over 10 years as well as $50 million a year for technical assistance and outreach. If the bill becomes law, Congress would have to approve the authorized spending through the appropriations process.

Eligible power sources for the clean energy microgrids are solar, wind, geothermal, existing hydropower, micro-hydropower, hydrokinetic and hydrogen fuel cells.

The bill places a priority on giving assistance grants to environmental justice communities and at least 10% of the funding would go to municipal and other community-owned utilities.

Hybrid microgrids

Another provision requires the DOE to establish a program to help develop hybrid microgrids for isolated communities and to improve the resilience of critical infrastructure.

The hybrid microgrids, which would be eligible for federal cost sharing, must include at least one type of clean power source.

The bill directs the DOE to develop a strategy to use hybrid microgrids to displace conventional generation.

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Indirect microgrid funding opportunities

The climate bill contains various measures that could indirectly benefit microgrids.

One section of the bill directs the DOE to set up a $250 million loan program for distributed energy systems, including microgrids. States, tribes and utilities can receive the loans.

The bill authorizes $100 billion in funding for a clean energy and sustainability “accelerator,” which would partner with private investors to finance low- and zero-emissions energy technologies, grid modernization and climate-resilient infrastructure, among other things.

The accelerator, essentially a green bank, could help states and local governments set up their own lending programs with private investors to finance green energy projects.

The bill also requires state regulators to consider “non-wires solutions,” such as microgrids and energy storage, as alternatives to traditional investments in power line facilities.

Key lawmakers plan hearings on climate bill

The climate bill was introduced by Rep. Frank Pallone Jr., D-NJ, chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee. He was joined in sponsoring the bill by Environment and Climate Change Subcommittee Chairman Paul Tonko, D-NY, and Energy Subcommittee Chairman Bobby Rush, D-IL.

The lawmakers plan to hold hearings on the bill, and they hope to get Republican support for the legislation.

Sen. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-NY, has made climate change legislation a top priority, but no similar bill has been introduced in the Senate this year.

In December 2020, energy legislation was included in a pandemic relief bill that became law. The bill included provisions benefiting microgrid developers.

A bill that would provide $1.5 billion in funding for microgrids is pending in the House.

Learn more about microgrid funding at Microgrid 2021: The World Awakens to Microgrids, which will feature a special two-day session on the economics of microgrids, May 18 and 20. The conference is free for those who register in advance. Space on the platform is limited, and Microgrid Knowledge virtual conferences attract thousands of participants. We encourage you to register today.

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  1. Biggest lie of our lifetime is that CO2 contributes to climate change. If liberals truly believed this they would outlaw carbonated beverages, candles and kerosene, barbequing, control burns, bonfires and smoking anything.
    “During the time period when water vapor (WV) and carbon dioxide (CO2) have been accurately measured worldwide, 1988-now, WV increase has been responsible for the human contribution to Global Warming/Climate Change with no significant net contribution from CO2.” quoting Daniel Pangburn.
    Or you can go with a 54 year old theory like the May 1967 Manabe and Wetherald’s 19 page excerpt from the Journal of Atmospheric Science conveniently aligns their CO2 climate theory culprit with the environmental movements against fossil fuels of those days. Unfortunately, every graph shows CO2 trending higher after temps have already tracked higher. CO2 molecules are 1.5 heavier than air so you would expect CO2 be an influence on lightwaves in the lower 10,000ft. Certainly CO2 can be swept to higher elevations, but CO2 rarely become opaque at -70degF until it reaches the 80,000ft level. So, there’s virtually no crystalline blocking of short and long light waves by CO2 like occurs with H20 vapor (ie. clouds below 30,000ft where H20 freezes). Since CO2 molecules are symmetric with two Oxygen atoms electrically opposed by the one carbon atom impacts with light/radiation must be done by direct collision, versus H20 which is an asymmetrical lop-sided molecule that can also deflect radiation with electron attractions. H20 vapor is 20-30 times more prevalent than CO2 in our air. Water vapor is the biggest greenhouse gas and it allows earth to have a hospitable temp outcome as the sunlight hits or subsides. It seems that CA fossil fuel and nuke fear mongers have thwarted our once robust electric system by the slow elimination of generation on the coast with a 1967 theory on CO2. The same CO2 fear mongers created legislation to sequester obscene amounts of CO2 in dead trees in forests that fueled the fires a made all CA electric utilities a pariah. Obviously, climate changes over time, but it’s becoming obscene what CO2 fanatics have done to CA by siphoning money toward their cronies who profit from renewables over the stability of our electric system.

    • Professor Susan Lea Smith says:

      This post is pseudo-science designed to buttress climate denial. Don’t pay any attention to it. The IPCC has an unequivocal consensus about CO2 as the most significant GHG, although methane (natural gas) is very significant because it is roughly 25 times as potent as a greenhouse gas. The IPCC includes thousands of climate scientists from around the globe.

    • Michael Harris says:

      “Biggest lie of our lifetime is that CO2 contributes to climate change. If liberals truly believed this they would outlaw carbonated beverages, candles and kerosene, barbequing, control burns, bonfires and smoking anything”

      Why would anyone read one more word of this drivel after reading the first, ridiculous, paragraph? If you want to discuss lies, there are many examples. CO2 contribution to climate disruption is not one. Moreover, is this a political comment you wish to post? Because this forum focuses on science and engineering. Perhaps you made a wrong turn and wound up here by mistake? Finally, I assume the last sentence is sarcasm because nobody in their right mind would really think that which you wrote. So the question is, what are you trying to accomplish with such a low form of humor?

  2. Professor Susan Lea Smith says:

    Sorry, I left out “anthropocgenic” CO2 and perhaps methane are the most significant anthropogenic GHGs. Water vapor is part of the natural climate. It is a greenhouse gas, but it serves to amplify the global warming effects of human GHG emissions — not replace it as an explanation. Go to the Real Climate website for discussions of the effects of water vapor.

    • Thanks for that quick source to check out. Personally I’ve been using solar PV to power my daily energy needs for 16 years now. I’m not off grid, just less dependent on their energy efficiency programs that are often skewed to move price points of electricity around for their own revenue stream adjustments.

      Although I can appreciate Scott M’s position, what information you haven’t been provided with is that Scott is a utility operator and expounds on his experience with testing and test procedures used in grid testing and maintenance. His wages, benefits, pension and lifestyle is depending on the status quo, at least until he retires. IF independent alternative energy is widely adopted, this threatens his lifestyle and is out of his comfort zone. His past concerns are about, what happens if C&I as well as CCAs and residential entities start using a lot of solar PV, wind generation and energy storage for their behind the meter needs to create an environment of power agnostic, if the grid’s there great, if it’s not well that’s fine too. It has been a pundit that such intertwined operations as non-fueled energy generation and grid fueled energy generation need a lot of data crunching to organize and operate disparate distributed energy resources and centralized generation as one unit. The answer seems to be leaning towards AI and smart controls installed along the grid infrastructure in an automated SCADA package. Just as solar PV farms or wind farms reduce O&M personnel over an operation like a coal fired generation plant with three shifts and about 500 employees to a couple of dozen for alternative energy operations. The times they are a changin’, the utilities are afraid, very afraid.

    • Scott M says:

      Is this some sort of Cancel Culture attempt by the professor? I appears she’s intolerant of a different view, so there’s nothing to see here, look away.
      Water Vapor is the biggest greenhouse gas and ignoring or diminishing its value defies common sense. I gave facts comparing WV to CO2. The professor instead has drank the Kool-aide and defers to others at IPCC that have “unequivocal consensus”, not unequivocal proof. They can’t prove their theories, because it’s impossible to remove one or the other factors for an actual controlled experiment. The professor is ignoring why the other CO2 releases I listed above are not prohibited and that’s because of the all mighty dollar or the threat of loss of life in the case of stopping control burns.
      Solarman, FYI, I’m retired and do not rely on a pension, but I do sell options. I obtained my senior reactor operator’s license in 1983 and a NERC Regional Coordinator certification in 2009. Those AI SCADA add-on packages are already in place for 5 & 10 years respectively and are paid by customers in the General Rate Case. In distribution, there’s Smart Grid software layered on SCADA that hunts for another feeder after isolating and in transmission there’s PACIRAS with 4 redundant trains that replaced Manual Deep Load Shedding for frequency excursions and generation deficiencies. I’m the only poster on this site that has sit in an electric control room for 35+ years, pulled control rods on a nuke, figured the ACE formula (hourly net import/export area correction) for the CAISO, transitioned small substations on and off of Agrekko diesel gens and put Humpty-Dumpty back on the wall multiple times after a transmission system blackout. Above all, I realize how precarious the whole transmission system is and how all the Special Protection Schemes/microprocessor relays protect 500kV lines and below and also the turbine runback or load rejection schemes at steam powerplants.

    • Scott M says:

      BTW, you appear to be a law professor at Williamette College of Law that wrote a book on water ethics. So, neither of us is a credentialed expert on GHG? I hope she would defend my water rights on my small ranch if a municipality or power hungry water district tried to take they away from me.

    • Scott M says:

      Nothing in my post refutes or resembles a literal denial of climate change. So, as a lawyer you came to a false conclusion by extrapolating something that wasn’t there. But, it do believe the “Biggest lie of our lifetime is that CO2 contributes to climate change.”

  3. MICHAEL ONEAL says:

    How many people would not have been burned to death had it not been for the transmission lines starting wildfires?
    How much money would have been saved by not having to pay insurance to compensate the families of those that were burned to death and the property destroyed by wildfires started by the transmission lines?
    Decentralization and microgrids are good for the people and not for the control freaks.

    • PG&E has been the most egregious utility entity in California. Poisoning the ground water in Hinckley, CA with chromium six from 1968 to 1992. Blow out of an unmaintained natural gas feeder that took out a block of houses in San Bruno in 2010, 8 people dead. The Camp Fire 85 dead another recent fire is still being investigated and there (may) be 4 or 5 more deaths attributed to PG&E from this fire. Over the years PG&E has killed perhaps 97 people in the State of California without anyone say, from the Board of Directors doing prison time for these egregious dangerous acts in the name of dividends over O&M. Over 40 years, at least 97 people dead, how do you tally the damage done in Hinckley over 24 years? That would make PG&E one of the most prolific serial killers in California history and no jail time.

      When PG&E filed for bankruptcy there were charges at that time it was reported PG&E had $51 billion of liabilities and $71 billion in assets and possibly a $30 billion dollar liability just for the Camp Fire. An O&M expenditure over 5 years before the Camp Fire would have gone a long way to remediating and hardening the grid, we’ll never know for sure if 85 lives could have been saved, because the money was sent elsewhere.

  4. “Solarman, FYI, I’m retired and do not rely on a pension, but I do sell options. I obtained my senior reactor operator’s license in 1983 and a NERC Regional Coordinator certification in 2009. Those AI SCADA add-on packages are already in place for 5 & 10 years respectively and are paid by customers in the General Rate Case.”

    Great and all of that time and ‘experience’ you never came up with an answer to the nuclear plant waste stream decommissioning, that’s not a fair or equitable legacy to the next generation. So, for the past 5 to 10 years, you’ve felt upper management’s feet in your back pushing you out the door. Yeah, you did really neat stuff for 35+ years and still left the next generation with onerous decommissioning charges on nuclear plants and no proper end game to do so. It comes down to (our) generation got stuck with nuclear energy, the politics kicked the can down the road and now several generation(s) will have to find a way to clean up the mess made that had the promise “too cheap to meter”. It has been proven until the electric utility changes the business model and controls the amount and direction of generated electricity there will not be “too cheap to meter”. All this with the looming decarbonization of the transportation sector into all electric and a mandate of decarbonization of the domestic electricity system by 2035.

  5. Scott M. says:

    Sorry for the patently false post. I drank too much of my homebrew moonshine. I agree that scientists — AKA experts — are the people we should listen to, and not people like me — AKA internet trolls. The IPCC is the decisive source on this matter, and not me. If you want a quasi-expert on cow manure, then talk to me. I’m your guy. And sorry about that STUPID water vapor comment. The moonshine was talking. Water vapor is in fact the most common greenhouse gas in the atmosphere; I just forgot to mention that it doesn’t really affect temperature. Instead, it’s mainly controlled by temperature. And, professor, sorry for the low-level attacks on you; again, the moonshine. Thanks all! Now excuse me while I get out and tend to my crops and cattle — my main expertise, and certainly not climate change or microgrids!

  6. Scott M. says:

    Here is the source I should have cited earlier:'s%20true%20that%20water%20vapor,instead%20controlled%20by%20the%20temperature. It is a clear explainer about water vapor and other greenhouse gases. The sources I cited were — you guessed it — moonshine fueled. THanks, y’all!

  7. Andrew Wheeler says:

    Thanks, Scott M., for the info. It’s beautiful to see your transformation. Have a pleasant day!