State to receive more than $10 million to strengthen grid

by Jeff Della Rosa ([email protected]) 982 views 

Arkansas will receive $10.3 million to enhance the state’s electrical grid and prevent power outages, according to a Wednesday (Sept. 20) news release from the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration (DFA). The money comes from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act or Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

Funding from the law supports the Grid Enhancement Grant Program (GRID) or Preventing Outages and Enhancing the Resilience of the Electric Grid/Hazard Hardening. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) will provide $2.5 billion in grants to strengthen the U.S. electrical grid. Arkansas will receive $5.16 million in the first year and $5.14 million in the second year.

The Grid Enhancement Grant Program aims to strengthen and modernize the U.S. power grid against wildfires, extreme weather and other natural disasters. Grant money for 2024 through 2026 has yet to be announced.

“This year’s historic natural disasters underscore the critical importance of our electric grid,” said Gov. Sarah Sanders. “We need the grid to run to keep our entire state moving. This investment will enhance our grid’s resiliency to help in future crisis events, benefitting Arkansans for years to come.”

Companies that may qualify for the grants include electric grid operators, electricity storage operators, electricity generators, transmission owners or operators, distribution providers and fuel suppliers. The DFA will manage the application process. It will release details regarding the process and timeline on its website once they are set. Those interested in applying can email [email protected].

“We will work closely with our partners to establish the process through which the grants will be distributed,” said Becky Keogh, infrastructure coordinator for the state of Arkansas. “As Arkansans continue to recover from the March tornadoes along with other major weather events, we have a great opportunity to enhance our grid going forward.”

Projects that may qualify for the grants include weatherization technologies and equipment, fire-resistant technologies and fire prevention systems, placing electrical equipment underground, utility pole management, power line relocation and adaptive protection technologies. The DFA will follow DOE guidance to maximize the benefits to Arkansas residents, the release shows. The DFA hosted a public hearing on the grant program earlier this year.

“In addition to the initial $10 million, we anticipate more funding will be made available through the Grid Enhancement Grant Program,” said DFA Secretary Jim Hudson. “Citizens across the state partnered to support our fellow Arkansans affected by the historic weather events earlier this year. Investing in our grid is one more way we can take action to keep Arkansans safe should we ever face this again.”