New funds will help local municipal, co-op utilities across the state improve power grid reliability and better deliver clean power to Illinois households
Illinois Governor JB Pritzker recently announced a $16,063,450 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Grid Resilience State and Tribal Formula Grant Program to help the state’s small municipal and co-op utilities improve power grid reliability and help mitigate the impacts of extreme weather on Illinois families. Illinois is among the 11 states, two territories, and 20 Tribal nations that were selected for the program’s eighth round of funding last week.
“As we face extreme weather and natural disasters with increasing frequency, it is crucial that we modernize and fortify our power grid to withstand the climate change crisis,” said Gov. Pritzker. “This investment in our state’s power grid will propel our clean energy objectives, uplift our most disadvantaged communities, and support our clean energy workforce to build a more sustainable Illinois for generations to come.”
“Strengthening our power grid is a critical part of keeping electricity safe, affordable, and reliable,” said Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) Chairman Doug P. Scott. “The Illinois Commerce Commission has been tasked with turning several of Illinois’ clean energy goals under the Illinois Climate and Equitable Jobs Act (CEJA) into a reality and securing these award dollars will make it easier for all Illinoisians, regardless of where they live, to access the benefits of the energy transition.”
“President Biden, Governor Pritzker, DOE Secretary Granholm, and ICC Chairman Scott know that every American, regardless of their address or where they get their power from, should have reliable electricity,” said Chris Meister, Illinois Finance Authority/Climate Bank executive director. “This funding will help support local, good-paying jobs and a vibrant local economy with opportunities for all. This coordinated federal and state approach also allows a productive partnership with the Illinois Municipal Utilities Association, the Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives, and their member utilities to address this essential need.”
In the coming months, the Illinois Finance Authority/Climate Bank (IFA/CB) will conduct a competitive selection process to identify projects that focus on reliability and resiliency improvements in disadvantaged communities that are at risk from climate change impacts. The grant dollars are also intended to support equity by increasing access and opportunities for underserved residents and businesses, and support communities and small utilities in grid resiliency planning and investment.
IFA/CB has previously worked with stakeholders to help identify such projects, including: community resilience hubs at schools, fire stations, or other community facilities that provide essential services during extreme weather events; critical facility microgrids that help reduce safety threats during power outages; an emergency equipment share that provide smaller municipal and co-op utilities with access to essential equipment; and community-driven pilot programs.
“The Illinois Municipal Utilities Association congratulates the Pritzker Administration on receiving this grant funding from the Department of Energy,” said Kevin Gaden, president and CEO, Illinois Municipal Utilities Association. “Further, we applaud the Governor for recognizing that Illinois’ municipal utilities play a vital role in hardening the grid and providing reliable electric service to our customers by including our interests in its grant proposal. We look forward to working cooperatively with the state to ensure our mutual goal of improved reliability, resilience, and affordability.”
“We thank Governor Pritzker for devoting state resources to pursue these federal dollars to benefit our consumers—ordinary people and small businesses in rural and small-town Illinois—and ensure that they have access to reliable, sustainable, and affordable electric power,” said Craig Sondgeroth, president and CEO of the Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives.
Over the next five years, the Grid Resilience State and Tribal Formula Grants will distribute a total of $2.3 billion to states, territories, and Tribes, which will then award these funds to eligible entities to complete a diverse set of projects, with priority given to efforts that generate the greatest community benefit while providing clean, affordable, and reliable energy.
This is the first direct allocation of federal funds to IFA/CB since CEJA created the Illinois Climate Bank in September 2021.