The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has formally awarded the Colorado Energy Office (CEO) and Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) $17.2M. The award is for the first two years of five years of expected award funding meant to enable investments that improve the resilience and reliability of Colorado’s electric grid. The award will also support a study on the potential role of microgrids in advancing state energy goals.
Under Section 40101(d) Formula Grant Program of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), this award is part of DOE’s funding for States (including U.S. Territories) and Indian Tribes to improve the resilience of the electric grid in response to increases in climate-driven extreme weather events and aging infrastructure.
“Extreme weather conditions, such as flooding and wildfires, increasingly test the resilience of the state’s electric grid,” said CEO Executive Director Will Toor. “Improving the resilience of Colorado’s energy infrastructure against climate threats is a key priority for the state. We look forward to putting these funds into action to ensure all Coloradans have consistent access to clean, reliable electricity.”
In addition to this funding from DOE, the state will invest $2.6M into this grid resiliency work.
“The resilience of Colorado's energy infrastructure is paramount in our commitment to creating a more agile and green Colorado for generations to come,” said DOLA Executive Director, Rick Garcia. “By using dedicated funds and strategic initiatives, we aim to ensure that our state thrives in the face of climate challenges while leading the way towards a sustainable future.”
This funding will support the development of Colorado’s Microgrid Roadmap, as well three grant programs that will open applications this fall.
Colorado’s MCR program is one of just a few programs in the U.S. focused primarily on developing new microgrids — especially those centered around community-level systems. The MCR Program, which DOLA’s Colorado Resiliency Office launched earlier this year, focuses on strengthening the resilience of essential infrastructure and/or community based anchor institutions, such as schools; libraries; hospitals or other health-care facilities; and law enforcement, emergency medical service providers, or other public safety agencies. DOLA awarded eight proposals in the first round of MCR Planning Grants in July 2023 with State funding from HB22-1013.
DOE funding will significantly expand the budget and reach of the MCR Program, creating additional grant opportunities for both the planning and construction/implementation of microgrid projects.
- Construction/Implementation Grants available for storage/microgrid controller: Over two years, $12.3M is available in competitive grants. In Year 1, $5.8M is being made available through the Storage/Controller Construction/Implementation NOFA.
- Planning Grants: $500,000 available in competitive grants for rural cooperative electric associations and municipally-owned utilities.
An additional $565K in State funding from HB22-1013 will be managed separately from the federal award and will go towards the Construction/Implementation of Microgrid-Tied Generation. These competitive grants will be available for rural cooperative electric associations and municipally-owned utilities for one round of funding only.
This competitive grant opportunity will provide a total of $4,236,494 in funding to Colorado’s rural electric cooperatives and small municipal utilities for necessary upgrades to their infrastructure to protect it against increasing risks. Awarded utilities may use these grants to implement fire resistant technologies, underground electrical equipment, improve vegetation management, and replace or relocate power lines. The grant application period will be open from October 2, 2023 to December 1, 2023.
New and updated technologies offer utilities a variety of approaches to monitor their grid assets and respond to incidents quickly to minimize service disruptions. A total of $1,980,666 in competitive grant funding is available for Colorado utilities to implement advanced grid monitoring technologies, such as fire prevention systems, distribution pole sensors, grid modeling, and/or advanced vegetation management. Utilities may also use this funding to conduct studies to identify how to strategically deploy these technologies. All Colorado utilities are eligible to apply. The grant application period will be open from October 2, 2023 to December 15, 2023.
The Colorado Energy Office will develop a Microgrid Roadmap to identify how and where microgrids are needed most to harden the grid and increase electric reliability, while also increasing the use of clean, renewable electricity generation. CEO is currently selecting an expert contractor, who will lead a process to identify vulnerabilities in Colorado’s electric grid, conduct extensive stakeholder engagement, and recommend actions to facilitate development of future microgrids.
In tandem with CEO’s grant programs, CEO will work directly with utilities to identify and fund the projects of greatest importance to reduce the frequency of power outages and minimize their impact — especially in remote mountain and prairie communities and in disproportionately impacted communities.
CEO and DOLA will be offering an informational webinar about these opportunities on Thursday, October 5th, 2-3pm MT.
For more information about the Grid Hardening, Grid Monitoring and Microgrid Roadmap, visit the Colorado Energy Office’s Grid Resilience website. For questions about these programs, email the Program Manager, John Parks, at email@example.com.