Denver, CO – The Colorado Energy Office (CEO) and the state Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) have been awarded a $17.2 million federal grant for bolstering the resilience and reliability of Colorado’s electric grid. This move comes in response to increasing concerns over climate-driven extreme weather events and the aging infrastructure’s ability to withstand them.

The funds will be used to explore the role of microgrids in enhancing grid reliability. Rick Garcia, DOLA Executive Director, emphasized the critical nature of energy infrastructure resilience for the state. “The resilience of Colorado’s energy infrastructure is paramount in our commitment to creating a more agile and green Colorado for generations to come,” Garcia noted in a news release.

The National Energy Reliability Corp (NERC) highlighted the increasing risk factors of energy policy and grid transformation in its 2023 Reliability Risk Priorities Report. Recent extreme weather events, such as last Christmas’ winter storm Elliott and 2021’s winter storm Uri, have exposed significant vulnerabilities in the national electric grid, leading to tragic outcomes, including the deaths of nearly 300 people in Texas.

Colorado Energy Office Executive Director Will Toor stressed the urgency of the situation. “Extreme weather conditions, such as flooding and wildfires, increasingly test the resilience of the state’s electric grid,” Toor said. “Improving the resilience of Colorado’s energy infrastructure against climate threats is a key priority for the state.”

The state’s Microgrids for Community Resilience (MCR) program is pioneering the focus on developing new microgrids, especially those centered around community-level systems. Microgrids, local power grids that can operate independently or in conjunction with the area’s primary electrical grid, offer a promising solution to enhance grid reliability and resilience.

An additional $2.6 million in state funds will contribute to the establishment of a microgrid roadmap, identifying optimal locations for such projects. Three other grant programs are set to open applications this fall, furthering the initiative.

To provide more information on these significant opportunities, The Colorado Energy Office and DOLA will host a webinar on Thursday, October 5th, from 2-3 p.m. Interested parties are encouraged to register and gain insight into the state’s ambitious plans for enhancing electric grid reliability and resilience.