The Need for Modernization

Today’s legacy electricity grid must be transformed to meet the consumer, economic, environmental, and security priorities of the 21st century. Five key trends are driving this transformation that challenges the capacity of the grid to provide us with the services we need, but also provides us with the opportunity to modernize our grid into a platform for greater prosperity, growth, and innovation. 

  • Changing mix of types and characteristics of electric generation (in particular, distributed and clean energy)
  • Growing demands for a more resilient and reliable grid (especially due to weather impacts and cyber and physical attacks)
  • Growing supply- and demand-side opportunities for customers to actively participate in electricity markets
  • Emergence of interconnected electricity information and control systems
  • Aging electricity infrastructure

The current business-as-usual trajectory for the electricity industry will not result in a timely transition to a modernized grid.  Innovation in the electric power sector is inhibited by regulatory, market, and business model uncertainties.  Moreover, large investments initiated today may not fully come on line for ten years or more, and may remain with us for decades afterwards. DOE is coordinating a portfolio of activities to help set the nation on a cost-effective path to a resilient, secure, sustainable, and reliable grid that is flexible enough to provide an array of emerging services while remaining affordable to consumers.


To coordinate and enhance the contribution of the National Laboratory system in support of its Grid Modernization Initiative, DOE launched the Grid Modernization Laboratory Consortium (GMLC) in November 2014. The GMLC provides coordinated program planning and peer review for grid modernization activities delivered by the National Laboratories, via a DOE Annual Operating Plan, in six broad technical areas. The first comprehensive lab call was released in July 2015. 

The GMLC AOP serves each year as the foundation for implementing highly coordinated grid-related annual work plans by the DOE Program Offices specifically with the National Laboratory complex. The GMLC will ensure that the Laboratory system is delivering a high level of integration, coordination, quality, and impact, leveraging the best available assets from the regionally dispersed National Laboratory System, in collaboration with academic partners and external stakeholder technical advisory groups.