U.S. Department of Energy Announces $40 Million as Part of New ARPA-E Program Focused on Improving Reliability, Resiliency, and Security of Power Infrastructure

ARPA-E Launches Grid Overhaul with Proactive, High-speed Undergrounding for Reliability, Resilience, and Security (GOPHURRS) Program

Press and General Inquiries:

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today announced up to $40 million in funding to support a new program dedicated to developing cost-effective, high-speed, and safe undergrounding technologies to strengthen the system reliability for distribution grids by undergrounding electric power lines in urban and suburban areas.

This new DOE program supports the Biden Administration’s focus on expanding and modernizing America’s power infrastructure to build a more resilient electric grid, create good-paying jobs, and deliver reliable, clean, homegrown energy to American families and businesses.

“We know that by undergrounding our grid, we can create a more resilient and reliable U.S. power grid. But right now, we need to develop the solutions to make the process safer and more cost-effective,” said ARPA-E Director Evelyn N. Wang. “ARPA-E’s new GOPHURRS program wants to tackle this problem by developing new technologies that allow for reducing costs, increasing speed, and improving the reliability and safety of undergrounding the grid.”

Today, undergrounding the grid has reliability benefits but is cost-prohibitive in most cases and poses safety concerns during the construction. Burying distribution lines can be five to ten times more expensive than overhead distribution lines in urban and suburban areas, which creates a significant cost barrier to making decisions about badly-needed grid infrastructure updates.

The Grid Overhaul with Proactive, High-speed Undergrounding for Reliability, Resilience, and Security (GOPHURRS) program, managed by the DOE Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), will develop technologies focused on automation, damage prevention, and error elimination. Successful GOPHURRS project teams will focus on developing:

  • High-speed construction tools with maneuverability to install underground conduits with minimal disruption to the surface;
  • Sensors that can identify other buried utilities and obstacles in order to guide steerable drilling tools to avoid damages; and
  • Automated cable splicing systems to ensure error-free and safe installation of cable joints.

Visit the ARPA-E exCHANGE website for more information about GOPHURRS, including key guidelines and dates for applicants.