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ARPA-E GOPHURRS program awarding $34M to 12 projects to support undergrounding of grid

The US Department of Energy (DOE) announced $34 million for 12 projects across 11 states to strengthen and modernize the US’ aging power grid through the development of cost-effective, high-speed, and safe undergrounding technologies.

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Through the Grid Overhaul with Proactive, High-speed Undergrounding for Reliability, Resilience, and Security (GOPHURRS) program, the selected projects will advance innovative solutions to help upgrade and expand the nation’s grid infrastructure—lowering costs, reducing inefficiencies, mitigating disruptions from extreme weather events, and accelerating the adoption of renewable clean energy resources.

The electric power distribution system in the US has more than 5.5 million line-miles with more than 180 million power poles, all of which are susceptible to damage by weather and its effects, and account for a majority of power outages in the country each year.

Undergrounding power lines is a proven way of improving the system reliability for both transmission and distribution grids as weather events are less likely to interfere with systems that are protected below ground.

Managed by DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), the teams—including small and large businesses, national labs, and universities—will develop technologies to reduce costs, increase speed, and improve the safety of undergrounding operations.