The Trump administration announced a $50 million push Tuesday to support various development technologies improving the country’s energy grid and natural gas infrastructure.
The Department of Energy’s (DOE) investment is part of the agency’s ongoing effort to update a constantly evolving energy grid. The DOE’s announcement comes shortly after Hurricanes Irma and Harvey caused widespread disruptions in energy markets.
“As round-the-clock efforts continue to help communities recover from the devastation of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, the need to continue strengthening and improving our electricity delivery system to withstand and recover from disruptions has become even more compelling,” DOE chief Rick Perry said in a press statement.
The DOE’s fund comes shortly after the agency conducted a study showing the natural gas and solar power was hurting coal productivity. The study, which was finalized and published in August, hashed out recommendations to help strengthen the hodgepodge nature of today’s electric gird.
The agency’s report also encourages the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to allow coal-fired power plants to improve efficiency without new regulatory approvals and associated costs weighing down their business models. The report came before Harvey blasted Houston and other parts of Texas.
Harvey, a Category 4 hurricane that arrived in late August and hovered over Houston for several days, knocked out roughly 3 million barrels of oil per day, totaling a fifth of the United States’ oil refining capacity.
The storm severely hampered the nation’s oil industry and caused gas prices to tick up 3 cents from a two-year high after the national average jumped to $2.41 per gallon Tuesday. Gas prices have slowly fallen after Exxon, Shell, and other oil producers began putting their shuttered facilities back online.
The DOE acted quickly to thwart an energy crisis after the hurricanes. The agency released approximately 4.5 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve three days after Harvey made landfall.
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