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VIDEO: GM’s EV union and the grid’s renewable challenge

October 26, 2023

The Week in Sustainability – October 23–27

Rendering of an auto manufacturing plant

Electrification and the future of our grid

  • DOE’s new funding: The Department of Energy has committed a whopping $3.5B towards upgrading the electric grid. Stemming from the bipartisan infrastructure law of 2021, this move aims at enhancing the grid’s resiliency and capacity.
  • Renewability challenge: Our electricity grid must undergo two major changes as we electrify. First, it has to handle increased electric loads to meet demand, and second, it needs to transmit electricity over longer distances, considering renewable generation mainly occurs in rural locales. If these upgrades don’t happen, our net-zero aspirations could hit a snag. The Department of Energy funding primarily targets equipment upgrades and the installation of new transmission lines to tackle these challenges.
  • Microgrids for resilience: A significant portion of the fund will back microgrids—local grids that can function independently during power outages, e.g., rooftop solar systems with battery storage. Given the spike in weather-related power outages, this move is timely.
  • A net-zero grid by 2035? To actualize this plan, we need to double our current grid capacity. While the recent funding is a step in the right direction, we’re still a ways away from our end goal.

GM’s move: A step toward a greener economy

  • GM’s unionization: GM (General Motors) is taking the lead amidst an ongoing auto worker strike by permitting its EV battery plant workers to unionize under the United Autoworkers Union. This decision will encompass 6,000 employees across four plants and extend to all future EV plants.
  • Toward an equitable green economy: While transitioning to a green economy has its costs, the unionization of EV autoworkers offers vast opportunities for high-skilled, well-paid jobs. GM’s unionization is a significant win for UAW. GM’s move not only boosts its appeal to skilled EV production workers but might also compel other automakers to revisit their wage structures or consider unionization.

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1., “Biden-Harris Administration Announces $3.5 Billion for Largest Ever Investment in America’s Electric Grid, Deploying More Clean Energy, Lowering Costs, and Creating Union Jobs,” Accessed October 26, 2023

2. Grist, “GM agreed to unionize its EV operations. Will others do the same?,” Accessed October 26, 2023

Editorial statement
At Sustain.Life, our goal is to provide the most up-to-date, objective, and research-based information to help readers make informed decisions. Written by practitioners and experts, articles are grounded in research and experience-based practices. All information has been fact-checked and reviewed by our team of sustainability professionals to ensure content is accurate and aligns with current industry standards. Articles contain trusted third-party sources that are either directly linked to the text or listed at the bottom to take readers directly to the source.
Nick Liu-Sontag
Nick Liu-Sontag is a senior manager of sustainability at Sustain.Life. He has over a decade of experience in the sustainability and energy sectors.
Sustain.Life Team
Sustain.Life’s teams of sustainability practitioners and experts often collaborate on articles, videos, and other content.
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