Follow the Money: Bipartisan infrastructure bill with $73B for power grid clears key Senate hurdle

While lawmakers in D.C. debate whether to invest tens of billions in clean technologies, private climatetech investment funds are not waiting around.

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This column covers funding, capital flow and greed in the energy transition — from climatetech finance deals to the dealmakers in Washington, D.C.

Bipartisan infrastructure bill includes grid funding

More than $12 billion was plowed into private climatetech investment funds this week, but the big news was the U.S. Senate voting 67 – 32 to proceed with a bipartisan trillion-dollar infrastructure bill, with 17 Republicans joining all 50 Democrats in favor of advancing the measure. The procedural vote allows the bill to move ahead for consideration by the Senate. 

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The bipartisan deal includes $550 billion in new federal spending on America’s infrastructure, including $73 billion for the country’s electric grid and power structures. (The original Biden goal was $2.6 trillion for American infrastructure. Senate Democrats hope to pass a budget bill later this year that would get closer to that figure.)

Electric vehicle infrastructure: The bipartisan infrastructure deal would invest $7.5 billion to build out a national network of EV chargers. This would be the first federal investment in EV-charging infrastructure in the U.S. and includes a focus on rural, disadvantaged and difficult-to-reach communities.

As Canary Media has reported, researchers have found that meeting a 100 percent EV goal by 2035 will require investments of about $10 billion per year through 2035 in charging infrastructure and upgrading distribution grids.

Electric buses: The White House’s fact sheet about the bipartisan bill notes, American school buses play a critical role in expanding access to education, but they are also a significant source of pollution.” The legislation would invest $2.5 billion in zero-emission buses and $2.5 billion in low-emission buses, which would help drive demand for American-made batteries and vehicles.

Separately, two senior U.S. Senate Democrats have proposed spending $73 billion to electrify the nation’s 70,000 transit buses as part of a push to move the U.S. toward zero-emission transportation, as reported in Canary.

A recent analysis by the nonprofit Center for Transportation and the Environment estimated that it would cost between $56 billion and $89 billion to switch every public transit agency in the U.S. over to e‑buses.

Power infrastructure: The legislation would dedicate a considerable $73 billion to clean energy transmission and upgrade U.S. power infrastructure with thousands of miles” of new transmission lines. It would create a new Grid Deployment Authority to invest in research and development for advanced transmission and electricity distribution technologies and also invest in demonstration projects and research hubs for technologies including advanced nuclear reactors, carbon capture and clean hydrogen.

The $73 billion figure in the bill compares pretty favorably with the Biden administration’s original target of $100 billion in proposed incentives to build 20 gigawatts of transmission, as set forth in its American Jobs Plan.

Infrastructure spending in Biden’s original $2.6 trillion proposal…

Image: New York Times. Sources: Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget and White House. Figures are USD billions and rounded; figures for climate resiliency and Western water storage are approximate.

…compared to spending in the pared-down $550 billion bipartisan plan

Image: New York Times. Sources: Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget and White House. Figures are USD billions and rounded; figures for climate resiliency and Western water storage are approximate.

Another week, another $12 billion in climate funds

Last week’s $6 billion in climatetech fundraising from Generate Capital and General Atlantic has been eclipsed by the potential $20 billion being raised by TPG and Brookfield Asset Management.

According to PitchBook, TPG landed $5.4 billion in funding for its new Rise Climate Fund, with a target of $7 billion. Hank Paulson, former U.S. Treasury secretary and CEO of Goldman Sachs, is executive chair of the fund.

Brookfield Asset Management announced the first closing of a $7 billion climate-focused fund. The Brookfield Global Transition Fund will be capped at $12.5 billion. If it meets its target, the fund would be the largest devoted to climate sustainability, according to PitchBook data. 

Tracking climatetech VC

Energy and climate venture capital is now a growth sector and part of a VC industry that is on pace for a record year.

Sophie Purdom and Kimberly Zou cover venture capital and all things climate in their newsletter, Climate Tech VC. Here are the top deals from the duo’s most recent VC deal tracker.

Pivot Bio, a Berkeley, Calif. – based startup using microbes to replace synthetic fertilizer, raised $430 million in Series D funding from DCVC, Temasek, Generation Investment Management, G2 Venture Partners and Rockefeller Capital Management. As reported in Forbes, the company, founded with a grant from the Gates Foundation, is researching how plants can self-fertilize” with nitrogen, eliminating the need for synthetic fertilizers in big cereal crops such as corn and wheat. 

Nature’s Fynd, a company growing fermented protein, raised $350 million in Series C funding from Vision Fund 2, Blackstone Strategic Partners, Balyasny Asset Management, Hillhouse Investment, EDBI, SK and Hongkou.

Form Energy, a startup storing large amounts of electricity for power grids, raised $200 million in Series D funding from ArcelorMittal and others. Canary’s Julian Spector spoke with Form’s CEO and got the technical details.

(Lead image credit: Mark Wilson/​Getty Images) 

Eric Wesoff is the managing editor of Canary Media. He's a prominent industry journalist, analyst, writer, consultant, speaker and expert witness in the renewable energy field.