ARPA-E Archived Funding Opportunities

DE-FOA-0002720: Improving reliability of electric power distribution by cost-competitive undergrounding and high-performance maintenance technologies

The purpose of this RFI is to solicit input for a potential future ARPA-E research program focused on technologies to improve the resilience, reliability, and security of the medium voltage (MV) electric power distribution system by undergrounding power lines. The goals of this research effort would be to develop 1) reliable and safe construction and installation technologies for underground MV distribution systems that are cost-competitive to constructing overhead systems, 2) technologies for robust health monitoring and predictive maintenance of existing and new underground power distribution systems, and 3) approaches to enable rapid repair with minimal surface disruptions. ARPA-E is seeking information at this time regarding transformative, scalable, and rapidly deployable technologies that could:

a) Reduce the cost of civil works associated with overhead-to-underground conversion or the construction of new underground power lines close to existing buildings and active surface use (e.g. road traffic) while minimizing surface disruption.

b) Construct underground vaults and install conduits in various terrain types and geologic conditions cost-effectively while avoiding damage to existing underground infrastructure such as subways, gas pipes, potable water and sewer pipes, and telecommunication wires.

c) Dramatically reduce errors in the underground cable installation processes where failures are prone to occur (e.g. cable splices, installation of cables).

d) Improve the performance of installed systems with advanced sensing and data tools (e.g. monitoring and analyzing system health, locating point of failure quickly and precisely, detecting and categorizing incipient failures before they cause a catastrophic failure).

e) Repair a point of failure quickly and safely with minimal surface disruption for prompt power restoration in the event of a failure.

Please carefully review the REQUEST FOR INFORMATION GUIDELINES below. Please note, in particular, that the information you provide will be used by ARPA-E solely for program planning, without attribution. THIS IS A REQUEST FOR INFORMATION ONLY. THIS NOTICE DOES NOT CONSTITUTE A FUNDING OPPORTUNITY ANNOUNCEMENT (FOA). NO FOA EXISTS AT THIS TIME.

Purpose and Need for Information

The purpose of this RFI is solely to solicit input for ARPA-E consideration to inform the possible formulation of future research programs. ARPA-E will not provide funding or compensation for any information submitted in response to this RFI, and ARPA-E may use information submitted to this RFI without any attribution to the source. This RFI provides the broad research community with an opportunity to contribute views and opinions.


No material submitted for review will be returned and there will be no formal or informal debriefing concerning the review of any submitted material. ARPA-E may contact respondents to request clarification or seek additional information relevant to this RFI. All responses provided will be considered, but ARPA-E will not respond to individual submissions or publish publicly a compendium of responses. Respondents shall not include any information in the response to this RFI that could be considered proprietary or confidential.

Responses to this RFI should be submitted in PDF format to the email address by 5:00 PM Eastern Time on March 31, 2022 Emails should conform to the following guidelines:

Please insert “Response to DE-FOA-0002720 - <your organization name>” in the subject line of your emailIn the body of your email, include your name, title, organization, type of organization (e.g. university, non-governmental organization, small business, large business, federally funded research and development center (FFRDC), government-owned/government-operated (GOGO), etc.), email address, telephone number, and area of expertise.Responses to this RFI are limited to no more than 10 pages in length (12-point font size). Responders are strongly encouraged to include preliminary results, data, and figures that describe their potential processes.


Contact Information

Submission Deadlines

  • Concept Paper Submission Deadline: TBD
  • Full Application Submission Deadline: TBD