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Mountain West states, tribes receive funds to strengthen power grids strained by climate change

A field of high voltage power lines in a desert landscape during a blue-sky day.
Dominic Gentilcore
Adobe Stock
A high voltage power transmission line carrying renewable energy from solar panels in Clark County, Nev.

As climate change strains power grids nationwide, the federal government is spending more than $2 billion over the next few years to help states and tribes strengthen their infrastructure. Some of those funds are already flowing to parts of the Mountain West.

During heatwaves, homeowners crank up the AC. During wildfires, smoke stops sunshine from hitting solar panels. During droughts, low river flows cut hydropower capacity.

That’s why the U.S. Department of Energy is funding projects that not only upgrade power grids, but also invest in clean energy to combat climate change. So far, states in the Mountain West have received more than $70 million while tribes in the region have received over $3 million.

Democratic U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada said these efforts are critical.

“Part of this is about preparing for the future and the more extreme weather we are seeing here in Nevada,” Cortez Masto said. “So we need to make sure our tribes are a part of this and have the tools they need to keep the lights on and keep their families safe.”

She said building more clean energy projects will also diversify economies for states and tribes.

Over the past year, the U.S. has created more than 170,000 new clean energy jobs, according to advocacy group Climate Power.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Nevada Public Radio, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, KUNC in Colorado and KANW in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Kaleb is an award-winning journalist and KUNR’s Mountain West News Bureau reporter. His reporting covers issues related to the environment, wildlife and water in Nevada and the region.