As part of the nearly $1 billion in federal funds Maine received from the 2021 American Rescue Plan Act, Gov. Janet Mills announced Wednesday a $6.5 million electrical grid upgrade program for rural Maine businesses.
The electrical grid upgrade program is the latest addition to Gov. Mills’ Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan, which launched in October 2021 after approval by the State Legislature.
“This important investment from my Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan will help growing Maine businesses access safe and reliable electricity to power their operations and increase their efficiency to lower production costs,” Gov. Mills said in a Wednesday statement.
“Electricity supply can be a challenge for many businesses, especially in rural areas of the state. Investing in electric grid infrastructure is key to providing confidence for employers to locate and grow in Maine,” Mills said.
The program, which is led by the Governor’s Energy Office (GEO), the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD), and the Maine Technology Institute (MTI), will award grants to fund electric grid upgrades for businesses with a focus toward rural and energy-intensive industries.
MTI will be in charge of awarding the grants through a competitive process, and will emphasize industries such as agriculture and food processing, seafood harvesting, forestry, manufacturing, and housing.
MTI also states that companies “with minority and ethnically diverse owners will be favorably viewed by the reviewers,” as part of their “diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging” (DEIB) efforts.
“Companies that embrace these concepts [DEIB] to guide their culture will prove to be some of the most successful in the state,” MTI states on their website.
“Stable electric infrastructure is key for economic expansion,” said Heather Johnson, DECD Comissioner, and Dan Burgess, Director of the GEO. “This program will expand and upgrade the electric grid in areas of Maine with the opportunity and interest to grow, to further encourage and retain economic investment in those communities.”