Minnesota coalition not included in $3.5 billion first round of grid resiliency funding
On Wednesday, the Biden Administration announced the recipients of more than $3.5 billion in funding to improve the nation’s electric grid as part of the federal Grid Resilience and Innovation Partnerships (GRIP) Program. The list of chosen recipients did not include the joint $500 million proposal from the Minnesota Department of Commerce, developed in collaboration with the Minnesota Rural Electric Association (MREA), the Minnesota Municipal Utilities Association (MMUA), and 85 consumer-owned utilities. Nearly 300 projects were included in the proposal, all of which would have helped consumer-owned electric utilities implement innovative technologies to enhance the resiliency of the electrical grid in Minnesota and throughout the Upper Midwest region.
Darrick Moe, CEO of MREA, released the following statement reacting to the news. “Investing in our energy infrastructure is critical as we transition to cleaner sources of energy while maintaining reliability and affordability,” Moe said. “I am grateful for the strong coalition organized around getting these innovative projects across the finish line. While I am disappointed in this announcement, we will continue to work together to investigate potential options for these important projects in the future.”
Karleen Kos, CEO of MMUA, also responded saying, “No one doubts the importance of updating the grid and maintaining its reliability through the energy transition. I am extremely proud of the creative visioning, planning, and collaborative involvement of the 85 entities represented by our proposal. While this project was not successful, the efforts were not wasted. I look forward to continued work with MREA and the Department of Commerce to find ways to make these projects a reality in our region.”
The $3.46 billion funding announced Wednesday only represents a first round of selections under the broader $10.5 billion GRIP Program. The U.S. Department of Energy, which manages the GRIP Program, encouraged the coalition to continue to pursue additional rounds of funding in a letter sent Wednesday. Furthermore, they noted that less than 20 percent of applicants received funding in the first round.
A full list of funding recipients can be found online. The GRIP program is funded by the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act which was signed into law in November of 2021.
The Minnesota Rural Electric Association (MREA) is a nonprofit trade association serving Minnesota’s electric cooperatives. MREA provides legislative and regulatory representation, director and employee education programs, technical training for electric cooperative line workers, and serves as the focal point for cooperation among cooperatives. Minnesota’s 44 distribution cooperatives serve about 1.7 million Minnesotans in all 87 counties and operate the largest distribution network in the state with more than 135,000 miles of electric lines.
About MMUA: The Minnesota Municipal Utilities Association was established in 1931 to unify, support, and serve as a common voice for municipal utilities. The organization represents nonprofit hometown utilities in 124 communities around the state that serve a median 1,275 customers. MMUA provides safety, training, compliance, and government relations services in communities throughout Minnesota as well as from its offices in Plymouth and its Marshall-based training center.