Tester Announces $2.2 Million for Lower Yellowstone Rural Electric Association

FEMA Public Assistance Grant issued in response to 2021 wind damage

In response to severe wind storms in 2021, U.S. Senator Jon Tester today announced $2,248,900 in Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Public Assistance Grant funding for Lower Yellowstone Rural Electric Association to pay for recent repairs on power transmission infrastructure.

“It was co-ops that electrified rural America, and it’s rural electric co-ops that continue to keep Montana’s lights on today,” said Tester. “This funding is critical to powering eastern Montana, particularly after a severe weather event, and I’m looking forward to working with all of Montana’s co-ops to improve our grid resiliency for years to come.”

FEMA’s Public Assistance Grants are made available to areas which have received a Presidential declaration of an emergency or major disaster, and recipients must be categorized as a building, public works system, piece of equipment, or a natural feature. Lower Yellowstone Rural Electric Association was made eligible for a FEMA Public Assistance Grant on August 8th, 2021 in response to severe straight line winds. The electric cooperative used the funding for power distribution repairs.

Tester, a champion for rural electric co-ops, introduced his Flexibility for Rural America Act last year to give co-ops the option to refinance Rural Utilities Service (RUS) debt at market rates and to prevent significant financial losses for Montana electric co-ops and rural telecom providers due to the coronavirus pandemic. Additionally, he secured $500 million for the Western Area Power Administration’s power purchase and transmission activities through his recently passed bipartisan infrastructure law.

Other provisions in Tester’s bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act related to emergency relief and resiliency include:

  • $7 billion for Army Corps of Engineers infrastructure priorities to improve flood mitigation
  • $350 million of that for Army Corps CAP funding which includes Section 205 levee projects. Senator Tester secured a $100 million increase for the CAP program, and secured a provision to allow the Army Corps to waive cost-share requirements for economically-disadvantaged communities.
  • $3.5 billion for FEMA Flood Mitigation Assistance program
  • $1 billion for the FEMA Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) Program. This is a pre-disaster mitigation program, supporting states, local communities, tribes and territories undertaking hazard mitigation projects to reduce the risks they face from disasters and natural hazards.
  • $2.2 billion for the Aging Infrastructure Account, including to The Bureau of Reclamation for water infrastructure projects across the West that are in need of major upgrades or replacement