Senator Murray Announces $6 Million for WA State Projects to Advance Clean, Reliable Electrical Grid

Funding will support projects at WSU and at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory to improve electrical grid reliability during extreme weather events

Washington, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray, Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, announced that Washington state would receive $6 million from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to improve electrical grid infrastructure planning. The two projects in Washington state awarded funding are Washington State University (WSU), which will receive $2.4 million to develop planning tools to manage uncertainties in power grids across the state, and $3.6 million for the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) to assist in providing analysis to increase renewable resource integration into Washington’s power grid. Murray helped to secure this funding as a senior member of the Appropriations Committee in last year’s spending package.

“Washington state is already a leader in clean energy and renewable resources, and continuing to invest in our electric grid and cutting edge research on renewables is critical if we want to keep everyone’s lights on while lowering costs and emissions,” said Senator Patty Murray, “This new funding will advance work at WSU and the PNNL to improve the reliability of our electrical grid and promote clean energy solutions that are better for the environment and for communities all across Washington state.”

Overall, DOE announced eleven projects that will receive $34 million total for tools to advance a reliable clean energy electricity grid. DOE also announced a new $10 million funding opportunity to streamline the interconnection of clean energy to the grid.Together, these initiatives will enable grid planners, grid operators, and utility companies to reliably connect and manage renewable energy and battery storage resources on the electric grid, resulting in a reduction of extreme weather-related outages. This funding will help accelerate the reliable deployment of clean energy resources to achieve President Biden’s goal of 100% clean electricity by 2035.  

Renewable generation accounts for as much as 21% of the U.S. electricity supply. As the power grid adds larger amounts of variable renewable energy resources like solar and wind, grid planners and operators need new tools to manage these generation technologies. This is especially true as rising temperatures, retiring power plants, and increasing demand from massive electrification of building, transportation, and industrial sectors, put additional pressure on grid operations, including increased risk of blackouts, if reliability challenges are not addressed.  

Projects selected for the Solar Energy Technologies Office’s Operation and Planning Tools for Inverter-Based Resource Management and Availability for the Future Power System (OPTIMA) funding program, including for WSU and the PNNL, will advance tools that help grid planners and operators handle uncertainties when renewables account for large fractions of generation. These tools will allow the grid to be more flexible and resilient to changes like weather events and fluctuation in demand.  

Senator Murray was a leader in passing the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act—which collectively made historic investments to upgrade our nation’s infrastructure, turbocharge the clean energy economy, and ensure our country stays on the cutting-edge of clean energy technology. As Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Murray secured hundreds of millions for clean energy in this year’s spending package, signed into law on March 9th, for DOE to help secure energy grids, invest into clean energy technology and capacity, improve energy sector resilience, and more. In that package Murray also secured important funding for research at WSU, and for PNNL—including $65 million for PNNL’s Environmental and Molecular Sciences Laboratory, $10 million for construction of PNNL’s new Microbial Molecular Phenotyping Capability project, and major funding boosts for DOE’s Office of Science and the Water Power Technologies Office, both of which support PNNL’s work. Last month, Murray announced up to $32 million in funding for the Yakama Nation to boost their clean energy supply and grid resiliency.