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 closed. Future rounds to be announced later in 2024.

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 was available for the first round of funding. A one-third local match was required from all applicants.

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. 

The application period for the first round of funding is now closed. CEO expects to announce the first round of awards in Spring 2024.

CEO will announce the next round of funding and details on how to apply in Spring or Summer 2024. Check this webpage for updates.

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.