Wednesday, May 22, 2024
48.0°F

Tester secures $26 million to strengthen Montana’s energy grid against wildfire

by The Western News
| November 7, 2023 7:00 AM

Continuing his work to modernize Montana’s power grids, U.S. Senator Jon Tester secured $26 million in funding to prevent and protect energy grids against wildfire. 

This investment comes from Tester’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), and will work to modernize power grids across Montana to mitigate effects of extreme weather by improving data monitoring and advancing technologies.

Three of the projects will benefit electric co-ops in Western Montana.

Tester worked with five Republicans and four Democrats to negotiate the IIJA and was the only member of Montana’s Congressional delegation to vote for the bill.

“On my farm, I see first-hand the challenges that wildfires and other extreme weather events pose to communities across the state — and these disasters are only happening more often,” said Tester. “As wildfires become more common in our state, Montana small businesses and families need a power grid they can rely on. I’m proud to have secured this funding so we can continue to modernize our power grid and ensure we’re prepared when disaster strikes.”

This grant comes from the IIJA’s Grid Resilience and Innovation Partnership (GRIP) program. Wildfire Assessment and Resilience for Networks (WARN) to advance technologies to prevent and prepare for wildfires, and has been awarded to the following cooperatives in Montana:

- Beartooth Electric Cooperative, Red Lodge

- Flathead Electric Cooperative, Kalispell

- Lincoln Electric Cooperative, Eureka

- Missoula Electric Cooperative, Missoula

- Ravalli Electric Cooperative, Victor

 The WARN award will draw on data from the National Rural Electric Cooperatives Association (NRECA) to support state-of-the-art investments in grid hardening across Montana. For example, Missoula Electric will use its roughly $7 million in WARN funding to bury transmission lines in the Swan Valley to mitigate future wildfire risk.

Tester has led the charge to bolster Montana’s robust energy portfolio and modernize the state’s power grids. Through the IIJA, he secured significant investments to improve and modernize Montana’s electrical grid to support the next generation of energy. His bipartisan infrastructure law also supports clean energy research and development in the Montana University System.

Tester worked across the aisle for months to negotiate the IIJA with a group of five Republicans and four Democrats. Tester’s law is projected to create more than 800,000 American jobs and lower costs for businesses by making targeted investments that will strengthen our nation without raising taxes on working families.

Tester secured significant wins for Montana in the legislation, including $2.82 billion for Montana’s roads, highways, and bridges; $2.5 billion to complete all authorized Indian water rights settlements; $1 billion to complete all authorized rural water projects through the Bureau of Reclamation; $65 billion to deploy broadband to areas across the country that lack internet access and additionally make online connectivity affordable; and $3.37 billion to reduce wildfire risk nationwide, among others.