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.
1. Energy.gov, “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,” https://www.energy.gov/articles/biden-harris-administration-announces-35-billion-largest-ever-investment-americas-electric Accessed October 26, 2023
2. Grist, “GM agreed to unionize its EV operations. Will others do the same?,” https://grist.org/energy/gm-agreed-to-unionize-its-ev-operations-will-others-do-the-same/ Accessed October 26, 2023