(MAPLE GROVE, MINN) – The Minnesota Rural Electric Association (MREA) recently announced that it had received the go-ahead to make a formal application that helps secure around $400 million in utility infrastructure upgrades to Minnesota. MREA worked with the Minnesota Department of Commerce and others to file a preliminary grant application that seeks to access federal funds through the U.S. Department of Energy available as part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). The federal government gave the nod for MREA to submit a formal application, acknowledging the value of the proposed projects.
The application for dozens of projects will be submitted later this spring with the potential for the first round of funding to be received in late summer. The state of Minnesota also recently proposed legislation to provide a $115 million matching fund for the federal grant money. Since half of the $416 million is provided by the federal government, the other half would come from the utilities that proposed the innovative projects. Minnesota’s competitiveness fund could be used to help utilities cover their costs for these energy projects that strengthen Minnesota’s electric grid. Money from the fund would also be available to state, local and tribal governments as well.
Projects proposed by Minnesota’s electric cooperatives feature a variety of technology upgrades to improve Minnesota’s electric infrastructure and increase reliability. Projects include battery storage systems, improved line sectionalizing, high-tech systems to respond more quickly to power outages, technology to help monitor renewable energy resources and many other projects. By targeting transmission improvements to increase the capacity of existing lines, incorporating communications and software for operational improvement, and targeting specific locations for storage and automation, this application advances the use of innovation to the electric grid by decades.
“The matching grant will allow us to push forward tomorrow’s innovations today while still keeping electricity rates affordable,” said Darrick Moe, president and CEO of the MREA.
To view a list of some of the proposed included, click here.