Minnesota utility projects have received a whopping $614 million in federal funding this week, as part of the $3.5 billion in federal infrastructure funding for 58 projects across the country. The largest grant of $464 million will be used to improve five transmission projects across seven Midwestern states. The Minnesota Department of Commerce, along with Minneapolis-based Great Plains Institute and two regional grid operators, the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) and the Southwest Power Pool (SPP), led the effort to secure the money.
Xcel Energy is one of the major beneficiaries of this funding. The company will receive a big chunk of the money for projects including a $600 million to $700 million new power line in western and central Minnesota that it is building with Fergus Falls-based Otter Tail Power. Xcel Energy also received a separate $100 million Department of Energy grant designated for wildfire mitigation and grid resiliency.
The funding announced this week by U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm announced the largest-ever direct investment in grid infrastructure, which could result in up to $8 billion in federal and private funding for grid upgrades across the country. The money will go toward new high-voltage transmission line projects, which will strengthen electric grid resilience. The grid infrastructure will be upgraded to bring a range of renewable energy projects online and meet the Biden administration’s goal of reaching 100% clean electricity by 2035.
According to Xcel Energy, a big portion of its proposed rate increase would go toward building out transmission lines to connect to renewable power sources. Extreme weather events such as wildfires continue to strain the nation’s aging transmission systems. This funding will help upgrade the grid infrastructure and bring more renewable energy projects online, which will not only strengthen electric grid resilience but also help meet the Biden administration’s goal of reaching 100% clean electricity by 2035.