(The Center Square) – An energy proposal Minnesota and Iowa participated in has received approval to proceed in a federal funding application process, the Minnesota Department of Commerce announced Tuesday.
The department said in a news release that it applied with regional electric co-op and municipal utility partners for more than $240 million through the U.S. Department of Energy to build a more climate resilient electric grid to deliver affordable, safe, reliable electricity that’s increasingly carbon-free. If the U.S. Department of Energy approves the final application later this year, funding would be available through the Grid Resilience and Innovation Partnerships program.
The Department of Commerce is the lead state agency for the proposal, the release said. The Minnesota Rural Electric Association; the Minnesota Municipal Utilities Association; the Rural Cooperative, Municipal, and Generation and Transmission utilities in Iowa; the North Dakota Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives; and the South Dakota Rural Electric Association are also participating.
The proposal includes nearly 300 projects involving small-scale utilities that would face significant challenges as individual projects to pursue federal funds, according to the release. These projects would serve communities with factors DOE defines as disadvantaged communities, such as being low income, rural, tribal and geographically remote. The federal government’s Justice40 Initiative is a component of GRIP funding. The initiative’s goal is that 40% of the benefits of specific federal investments flow to communities that are marginalized, underserved and overburdened by pollution.
Projects include transmission system upgrades, infrastructure and tools to increase electricity generated by renewable energy, according to the release. Each project’s costs range between $360,000 to $54 million. Each project is expected to ask for DOE federal funding to cover half the project costs, and, combined, the projects would total more than $480 million. Minnesota might also allocate funding through its State Competitiveness Fund, which legislators passed in April.
“The money allocated by GRIP would help consumer-owned electric utilities to implement innovative technologies to improve the grid in Minnesota and the region,” Minnesota Rural Electric Association CEO Darrick Moe said in the release.
Minnesota submitted its final application May 19, the release said.