US Secretary of Energy congratulates ORNL for “thinking ahead”

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Electric vehicle charging stations and high-speed high-speed internet access are coming to eastern Tennessee under the new $ 1.2 trillion federal infrastructure law.

U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm touted the benefits of the work as she visited the Oak Ridge National Lab’s Grid Research Integration and Deployment Center on Monday. Employees at the high-tech facility are, among other advancements, laying the groundwork for Tennessee residents to purchase electric vehicles.

The large-scale infrastructure law attacks public transport, roads, bridges, ports, railways, power grids and high-speed internet, as well as water and sewage systems.

“The solutions we are working on here at the lab are the solutions we need to deploy,” said Granholm.

Encourage electric vehicles

One of the most visible solutions coming to Tennessee is the expansion of electric vehicle hook-up facilities.

The infrastructure law has set aside $ 7.5 billion for these, and researchers at the Grid Research Integration and Deployment Center are studying how to increase efficiency through wireless charging stations and charging stations integrated into roads.

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“The great thing about all of you being next to the lab is that the lab is looking to the future, even if it is helping the industry in the present,” Granholm told employees.

Granholm said the goal was to get Tennessee residents to buy electric vehicles if Biden’s Build Back Better bill passes. This bill, which is different from the bipartite infrastructure law, provides for a refundable tax credit for electric vehicles of up to $ 12,500. The House passed the bill, but it is stuck in a high-level debate in the Senate.

“There’s that incentive that when you buy an electric vehicle, the initial price at the dealership is reduced to be comparable to the gasoline vehicle,” Granholm said. “People are encouraged (…) to buy electric vehicles so that they never have to fill up with gasoline, so that they never have to worry about the volatility of gasoline prices. . “

Gas prices have steadily increased in recent months, with the current national average of $ 3.41 per gallon. Average gas prices in Tennessee are less than $ 3.11 per gallon.

“The president called for an increase in supply, both nationally and internationally,” Granholm said. “The concern is why has the supply not at least been activated faster? He hopes that domestic as well as international suppliers will step up to meet global and certainly domestic demand.”

Upgrading the Internet and the electricity grid and expanding employment opportunities

The Infrastructure Law also includes $ 65 billion to expand broadband Internet access Across the country. Granholm said the $ 100 million set aside for broadband internet will go “into every pocket” of the state.

“Every household will have access to high speed internet thanks to the investments and the bipartite infrastructure law,” said Granholm.

U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm told employees at Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Hardin Valley campus their work will propel the nation's power grid into the future.

Power grid upgrades are included in the Infrastructure Act, with $ 65 billion spent on upgrading the system.

“A lot of this is investing in the transmission network,” said Granholm. “We want to have a transmission network capable of being resistant to severe weather impacts. It is also capable of being resistant to cyber attacks.

Oak Ridge National Lab’s Grid Research Integration and Deployment Center is developing new types of sensors integrated into the power grid to indicate whether a site is at risk of going down, according to Rick Raines, director of the electrification and energy infrastructure division. at ORNL.

Funding for labs like ORNL’s Grid Research Integration and Deployment Center is a key part of Biden’s Build Back Better program that has a direct impact on Oak Ridge and eastern Tennessee, according to Granholm.

US Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm addresses the media after visiting GRID-C on the Hardin Valley campus of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Knoxville, Tenn. On Monday, November 22, 2021. The US Representative Chuck Fleischmann is at left and ORNL director Thomas Zacharia is at right.

Granholm says the Build Back Better program would create 1.5 million jobs per year in the United States, and ORNL plays a key role in creating those jobs.

“We want this supply chain here because it is part of the purpose of this factory for advanced manufacturing and labor, demonstrations, research and development,” said Granholm. “We want to build these products here, we want them to brand them, ‘Made in America’, we want to use them here and we want to send them elsewhere because it’s a huge job opportunity.”

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