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What Infrastructure Deal Could Mean to California

More accessible and more affordable broadband connectivity, as well as improvements to the state’s energy grid, could be in store for California, depending on what the federal infrastructure bill ultimately contains.

President Biden’s signature infrastructure deal, expected to soon pass in the Senate, could mean a windfall for California, to the tune of tens of billions of dollars.

But the negotiated bipartisan deal also leaves out some of the priorities the Bay Area’s lawmakers had fought for in the House, and it’s unclear whether they are willing to accept the bill without them.

According to estimates released by the White House, the infrastructure bill would bring California $25.3 billion for highways, $4.2 billion for bridges and $9.45 billion for public transportation over five years. The state would also be able to apply for more from pools of money for individual projects.

The bill would also support expanding electric vehicle charging networks, with $384 million to the state over five years and the opportunity to apply for more, the White House said. Another $100 million would come to California to boost broadband Internet access, plus more than 10.6 million Californians would be eligible to receive discounts on their broadband bill, the White House estimated.

Another $73 billion in the bill will support improving the nation’s energy grid, including new transmission lines. Many of California’s recent fires have been sparked by electrical grid equipment. Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Calif., specifically had some of his proposals included to put $5 billion over five years toward preventing blackouts and fires sparked by utilities by hardening the grid against extreme weather events.

(c)2021 The San Francisco Chronicle. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency LLC.