On Monday U.S. Senators from Maine Susan Collins, Angus King, and Congressman Jared Golden announced a $194,000 federal grant from the Department of Energy (DOE) to modernize the electric grid and improve the energy resilience for the Mi’kmaq Nation in Aroostook County.
The funding will go toward strengthening the Mi’kmaq’s power grid against wildfires, extreme weather, and other natural disasters.
“Access to reliable energy should always be a given,” said Senators Collins and King and Congressman Golden in a joint statement. “We’re glad the Mi’kmaq Nation is getting the federal resources they need to help keep their homes warm, lights on, and businesses up and running.”
The grant is a part of the DOE’s $34 million Grid Resilience and Tribal Formula Grants, which is supported by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act), signed by President Joe Biden in November 2021.
Since May of 2023, the DOE has distributed more than $407 million in Grid Resilience and Formula Grants.
“The Mi’kmaq Nation is very happy to be able to work with Versant Power to invest in upgrades to the electric grid infrastructure in Aroostook County,” said Mi’kmaq Nation Chief Edward Peter-Paul. “This will improve the reliability of critical infrastructure in our region of the State, and allow for fewer disruptions of electrical service during severe weather events. ”
“This investment in modernizing the grid infrastructure will also allow for more investment in clean energy in the region, and will also empower the Mi’kmaq Nation to diversify their energy needs moving forward,” Chief Peter-Paul added.
Alongside the Aroostook Band of Mi’kmaqs, the DOE granted the Miccosukee Tribe in Florida $229,000, and the Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California $1.3 million.
“Every community deserves a strong and reliable energy grid that can deploy cleaner, cheaper power to homes and businesses, while keeping their lights on during extreme weather,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm in an Aug. 3 press release announcing the grants.
“Thanks to the transformative investments in grid infrastructure under President Biden’s Investing in America agenda we are strengthening America’s workforce and preparing the nation for a more resilient, clean energy future,” Granholm said.
In June, Sen. Collins announced that the Maine Connectivity Authority was awarded over $271 million to expand broadband internet access in Maine, also a part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
The infrastructure law is expected to deliver approximately $2.5 billion to Maine over the next five years for broadband, transportation, energy, and environmental project, according to Collins’ press release.