Sen. Jon Tester secures funding to strengthen Ravalli County energy grid - TAI News
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Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) speaks with reporters at the U.S. Capitol, May 2, 2024. (Francis Chung/POLITICO via AP Images)

Montana Democratic U.S. Sen. Jon Tester announced a new federal grant on April 30 for the Ravalli Electric Cooperative to boost its energy grid resilience. The funds will come from the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which Tester helped negotiate

Tester is running for reelection this November against Republican Tim Sheehy. 

In a press release, Tester noted that he had secured $4.9 million for the energy co-op to install a battery storage system to serve as a backup in case of wildfires and extreme weather. 

“Families, small businesses, and communities in Montana deserve certainty when it comes to their power grid, especially with more wildfires and extreme weather each year – and this funding for Ravalli Electric Cooperative is working to deliver that certainty to folks in Ravalli County,” he said. “I’m proud to have secured this funding from my bipartisan infrastructure law, and I’ll keep working to ensure our state’s power grid stays reliable.”

Tester was a member of a group of 10 senators, five Democrats and five Republicans, who negotiated the 2021 infrastructure law. It increased federal investments in roads, bridges, water systems, electric vehicle charging stations, rail, airports, broadband, and power grids. Many of the investments have directly benefited Montana’s infrastructure.

The law passed by a vote of 69-30 in the Senate, with Montana Sen. Steve Daines and 29 other Republicans voting no. Republican Rep. Matt Rosendale voted against it in the House of Representatives.

A Sheehy spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment for this story. While Sheehy does not specifically address the bipartisan infrastructure law on his campaign website, he says, “The spending in Washington is out of control, and the career politicians are doing absolutely nothing to rein in this out-of-control spending,” and promises, “I will work to end the out-of-control spending and the disastrous economic policies that are crushing Montana families and small businesses.”

This is not the first time Tester has secured funding through the infrastructure law to improve the resilience of Montana’s energy grid in high-risk areas. In October 2023, he announced grants to modernize technology for electric cooperatives in Eureka, Kalispell, Missoula, and Red Lodge, in addition to the Ravalli Electric Cooperative in Victor.

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