Colorado Grid Hardening for Small and Rural Communities Grant Program

The Colorado Grid Hardening for Small and Rural Communities Grant Program will support rural electric cooperatives and municipal utilities in funding critical grid resilience projects. The Colorado Energy Office (CEO) and the Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) will prioritize funding for projects based on demonstrated need, impact, project readiness, and proposed cost match. The projects funded through this opportunity will support community-level resilience by hardening the grid to protect it from a variety of impacts. This funding comes from part of Colorado’s appropriation of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Legislation (BIL) (2021) 40101(d) Grid Resiliency funding. 

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Type: Grant

For: Rural electrical cooperatives and municipal utilities that sell less than 4,000,000 MWh per year; priority for utilities serving communities with small populations (see Eligibility section below)

Amount: $4,236,494 total available for the first funding cycle

Match: One-third minimum, cash or in kind

RFA rounds: 1st round open; applications due December 1, 2023 at 4:30 PM MT

Eligible applicants

Colorado cooperative electric associations (“coops”) and municipally-owned utilities that sell less than 4 million MWh per year are eligible to apply. The majority of projects must serve a small or rural community, defined as a county with a population of less than 50,000 or a municipality with a population of less than 25,000.

Eligible projects

  • Implementing weatherization technologies and equipment to utility assets
  • Implementing fire-resistant technologies and fire prevention systems
  • Undergrounding electrical equipment
  • Improving utility pole management
  • Relocating power lines or reconductoring power lines with low-sag, advanced conductors
  • Implementing vegetation and fuel-load management
  • Replacing old overhead conductors and underground cables

A total of $4,236,494 is available. Requests for funding must not exceed $1,059,000. A one-third local match is required. The match can be cash, in-kind, or a combination of the two.

Note that the $4.2 million in total funding represents only the first two years of funding from what is expected to be a five year program. We expect three subsequent funding cycles, with each containing approximately half of this funding amount. 

Request for applications

The application for the Grid Hardening for Small and Rural Communities Grant Program is now open through December 1, 2023 at 4:30 PM MT. Please submit all applications via email to gridresiliency@state.co.us

Download Request for Application (RFA) Document

To apply, eligible utilities must prepare and submit the following: 

  • A Project description (not to exceed 15 pages)
  • A summary or brief description of any other application submitted by the applicant to the Department of Energy under BIL Section 40101(c), Grid Resilience and Innovation Partnerships (GRIP) Topic 1.
  • A description of the point of manufacture for any products that will be purchased with the grant to determine if they will comply with the Buy America Build America component of the BIL.
  • The following documents listed under “Resilience Project Documents” on the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) 40101D Post-Award Resource Documents page:

CEO will announce funding awards in early 2024.

Please reach out to gridresiliency@state.co.us with any questions.

Informational webinar

CEO and DOLA will host a pre-application webinar about the state’s grid resiliency programs on October 5, 2023, 2:00 - 3:00 PM MT.

Register to attend the webinar

Question and answer period

Applicants may submit questions about the RFA to gridresiliency@state.co.us until November 3, 2023 at 4:30 PM MT. CEO will post responses to these questions on this webpage, as well as any new changes to the RFA document, no later than November 8 at 4:30 PM MT.

A Selection Committee made up of Colorado Energy Office and DOLA Colorado Resiliency Office staff will review and score applications according to the following criteria:

  • Demonstrated need - 40%
    • Historic frequency and duration of power outages 
    • Proportion of historically underserved populations in the target community or communities
    • Demonstrated financial need of cooperative or municipal utility
  • Project Impact - 30%
    • Climate risk and social vulnerability of the target population and how the project will mitigate those risks and vulnerabilities
    • Ability of the project to mitigate risks of power outages to the community
  • Labor Impact - 10%
    • The extent to which the applicant employs strong labor standards and protections, such as project labor agreements, training practices, plans to partner with training providers, and use of an appropriately credentialed workforce
  • Project Readiness  - 20%
    • Demonstration of administrative, technical, and operational preparedness
    • Alignment with other local, state, and/or regional plans

CEO will make final project award decisions and will contact awarded applicants with the next steps to formally execute a grant agreement. CEO will also notify applicants not selected for grant funding via email.

Any awarded projects must be approved by the DOE after selection by the State. No work may begin on a proposed project prior to selection by CEO and approval by DOE. Awarded applicants must enter a formal grant agreement with CEO to receive funds. CEO will issue payment as reimbursements. Work the applicant performs before formally executing a grant agreement with CEO is not eligible for reimbursement.