Tester Secures More Than $9 Million for Missoula Electric Cooperative to Protect Against Wildfire

Grid resilience funding comes from the Senator’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law

As a part of his continued work to modernize Montana’s power grids, U.S. Senator Jon Tester secured two awards totaling more than $9 million in funding for Missoula Electric Cooperative (MEC) to prevent and protect against wildfire. This investment comes from Tester’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), and will work to modernize MEC’s power grid to mitigate effects of extreme weather by improving data monitoring and weather forecasting.

Tester worked with five Republicans and four Democrats to negotiate the IIJA and was the only member of Montana’s Congressional delegation to vote for the bill.

“On my farm, I’ve seen the devastating effects of extreme weather take a toll on our business and our family  – and too many other Montanans know the feeling,” said Tester. “Each year, wildfires in particular are forcing us to breathe in more smoke, they’re hitting our pocketbooks, and they’re posing a risk to vital infrastructure that we just can’t afford to lose, like our power grids. I’m proud to have secured this funding from my bipartisan infrastructure law for Missoula Electric Cooperate to prepare for wildfire and ensure we can keep power on all across our state.”

These grants were awarded from the Grid Resilience and Innovation Partnership (GRIP) program. Missoula Electric will receive $2,749,071 to improve weather monitoring across its system and install state-of-the-art technology that will allow operators to respond remotely and in real time to hazardous weather conditions. Missoula Electric will also receive roughly $7 million through a regional GRIP award for the Wildfire Assessment and Resilience for Networks (WARN). The cooperative will use these funds to bury high-risk transmission lines in the Swan Valley. Altogether, the WARN Award will provide $26 million to five Montana rural electric cooperatives.

Tester has led the charge to bolster Montana’s robust energy portfolio and modernize the state’s power grids. Through the IIJA, he secured significant investments to improve and modernize Montana’s electrical grid to support the next generation of energy. His bipartisan infrastructure law also supports clean energy research and development in the Montana University System.

Tester worked across the aisle for months to negotiate the IIJA with a group of five Republicans and four Democrats. Tester’s law is projected to create more than 800,000 American jobs and lower costs for businesses by making targeted investments that will strengthen our nation without raising taxes on working families.

Tester secured significant wins for Montana in the legislation, including $2.82 billion for Montana’s roads, highways, and bridges; $2.5 billion to complete all authorized Indian water rights settlements; $1 billion to complete all authorized rural water projects through the Bureau of Reclamation; $65 billion to deploy broadband to areas across the country that lack internet access and additionally make online connectivity affordable; and $3.37 billion to reduce wildfire risk nationwide, among others. A full list of Montana provisions in Tester’s bipartisan infrastructure law can be found HERE.