Infrastructure Federal Funds: Moving Texas Forward

Earlier this month, the U.S. Senate passed the INVEST in America Act, commonly referred to as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal. This $1.2 trillion package is vast in scope and aims to help repair and expand traditional infrastructure like roads, bridges, and ports; improve the resiliency and reliability of our country’s electric delivery system; and prepare for the future by helping close the digital divide, improve public transportation, and expand electric vehicle charging networks.

Texas stands to receive  $26.9 billion in funding over the next five years if the current draft of the bill passes, according to estimates from the White House. Unlike federal stimulus funds, the majority of this infrastructure funding would be available through funding formulas and grants.

This includes $3.3 billion in funding to help improve public transportation options and $537 million for bridge replacement and repairs. In addition, Texas could receive $408 million to support the expansion of our state’s electric vehicle charging network.

Compared to the federal funds that Texas has been allocated in previous transportation funding bills, these new funds represent a $1.1 billion annual increase for transportation planners starting in the next fiscal year.

This potential increase coupled with the $117.5 billion in fiscal recovery funds provides an opportunity for our state to address long-term issues in keeping Texas’ infrastructure competitive on a global scale.

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal also creates a series of grant programs to improve power generation and grid reliability, including creating the Civil Nuclear Credit Program, which allocates $6 billion over five years to help nuclear reactors remain competitive in wholesale electricity markets. With Texas’ growing need for baseload power, and two nuclear plants in operation today, the state could potentially leverage a portion of these funds to help preserve much-needed dispatchable nuclear power that also has low carbon emissions.

In addition, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal allocated $13 billion in grants to help grid operators, transmission and distribution utilities and generators improve grid reliability and resilience.

Of these, Texas system operators, such as ERCOT, transmission and generation owners can apply for grants to reduce the likelihood and consequences of “disruptive events,” such as this year’s winter storm, by investing in improvements including weatherization, fire-resistant technologies, undergrounding of electrical equipment, and microgrids. As part of these funds, Texas’s governmental entities will also have an opportunity to apply for reliability grants to fund new approaches to transmission, energy storage, and distribution that will harden and enhance reliability. Additional grants will be available for Texas utilities to upgrade software and improve the visibility of grid operators and Texas operators can compete for additional national grants to help distributed energy resources to serve as assets for our grid.

The bill also makes a significant investment in carbon capture by setting aside $7.5 billion for carbon capture demonstration projects within the Department of Energy’s Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management and $2.1 billion for a carbon capture-related infrastructure financing program, such as the development of pipelines that can deliver captured carbon.

A vote of the U.S. House of Representatives is the final procedural hurdle before the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal lands on the President’s desk. It’s not yet a done deal, and its future is politically tied to the current budget resolution being worked on in Congress — but it does represent a bipartisan commitment to investing in traditional infrastructure as well as a down payment on types of transformative infrastructure, helping ensure we are taking care of what we have while also preparing for what’s to come.

As Texas is a large, growing state with a growing economy, these funds could help Texas address our future infrastructure needs.