52 Co-ops Chosen to Pursue $650M in DOE Grid Reliability Grants

Midwest Energy Inc. lineworkers in Thomas County, Kansas, upgrade and rebuild power lines included in the co-op’s application selected by DOE to pursue a $97 million grant under GRIP. (Photo by: Midwest Energy)

The U.S. Department of Energy has selected dozens of electric cooperatives to pursue contracts worth about $650 million from its $10.5 billion Grid Resilience and Innovation Partnerships Program.

On Oct. 18, DOE announced the first round of potential GRIP grants totaling $3.5 billion for 58 grid projects in 44 states. Selected applicants, chosen through a competitive process, must now negotiate with DOE on the precise terms of their awards.

Among other requirements, GRIP recipients must match a portion of the federal cost and ensure the projects create high-quality local jobs that benefit economically challenged communities and cause minimal environmental impact.

Final awards will be given out in 2024.

“This infrastructure funding is an important step as electric co-ops work to harden systems and enhance the reliability of the grid,” said NRECA CEO Jim Matheson. “These projects hold tremendous potential for local communities.”

Holy Cross Energy, in partnership with NRECA and a 39-co-op consortium, was chosen for the largest co-op award, a $99 million grant toward wildfire mitigation projects across several states.

And Midwest Energy Inc. was picked for a $97 million award to upgrade substations and rebuild 150 miles of transmission lines in seven western Kansas counties.

NRECA is asking co-ops to log their application selection on the Share Your Wins page on cooperative.com.

“This unprecedented public investment in electric cooperatives to bolster grid reliability underscores how co-ops focus on their members’ best interests and why they’re ideal recipients of these federal dollars,” said Angela Strickland, NRECA senior vice president of Business and Technology Strategies. “This is a testament to co-op leadership, and we’re anxious to share stories about their exciting and significant projects.”

DOE formed the Grid Deployment Office, which administers GRIP, with money from the bipartisan infrastructure law to strengthen the reliability of the power system against extreme weather and other threats.

“Through this award, the electric cooperatives in our consortium will be able to work intentionally with our disadvantaged communities to reduce the likelihood of wildfire and the resulting losses of property and natural, community and cultural resources,” said Bryan Hannegan, president and CEO of Holy Cross Energy in Glenwood Springs, Colorado.

“The federal funding will help accelerate our work and support the development of a skilled workforce in our most disadvantaged communities, leading to stronger connections between the electric cooperatives and the people they serve.”

Patrick Parke, CEO of Hays, Kansas-based Midwest Energy, said, “This grant will help keep rates affordable for our customers as we address projects where assets are nearing the end of their service lives. Our customers and our communities will benefit as our system is improved through better reliability, increased line capacity to facilitate renewable energy access and mitigated wildfire risk.”

Other electric co-ops selected by DOE to negotiate GRIP grants for a variety of projects include:

Cathy Cash is a staff writer for NRECA.