Maine has been awarded a $4.4 million from the federal government to improve the “resilience” of the state’s electrical grid, as well as to “support Maine’s climate and clean energy goals.”
Gov. Janet Mills (D) announced Friday that $4.4 million in federal funding — sourced from the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act — will be administered by the Governor’s Energy Office (GEO) through the Maine Grid Resilience Program.
Among those eligible to receive portions of this funding are electric utilities, electricity generators, and storage operators.
“Losing power is not only an inconvenience,” said Gov. Mills in a press release Friday. “It can threaten the health and safety of Maine people.”
“We know we can expect more severe storms in the future, which means that we need to take act now to strengthen our electrical grid, and that’s exactly what the Grid Resilience Program will do,” Mills said. “With these investments through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we can improve our electrical grid, reduce the frequency and duration of power outages in the future, and better protect the health, safety, and welfare of Maine people.”
The $4.4 million grant was applauded by all four members of Maine’s Congressional delegation in Mills’ press release.
“An investment in our electrical grid not only helps to keep the lights on, but also protects the health and safety of Maine people,” Maine’s Congressional delegation said in Friday’s press release. “This grant, funded through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, will help support and modernize the Maine Grid Resilience Program’s projects to help reduce the number of power outages in the future.”
“By making smart investments today, we can protect our grid for tomorrow,” the lawmakers said.
“With the frequency and severity of storms expected to increase as a result of climate change,” Dan Burgess, Director of the Governor’s Energy Office said, “it’s imperative that we make smart investments in our electrical grid to mitigate and reduce future impacts.”
“Through this program, our goal is to empower Maine households, businesses, and communities to be resilient to future disruptive events,” Burgess said.
“Extreme winds and storms have left hundreds of thousands of Mainers without power this winter season,” said Maria Robinson, Director of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Grid Deployment Office.
“The Grid Deployment Office is proud to be partnering with the state of Maine to deploy this historic funding to strengthen and modernize Maine’s electric grid and mitigate the impact of server storms because every community across the state deserves reliable, affordable electricity for their homes and businesses,” Robinson said.
“The time could not be more urgent to invest in our state’s electrical grid,” Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee co-chairs, Sen. Mark Lawrence (D-York) and Rep. Stanley P. Zeigler (D-Montville). “The investments made through the Grid Resilience Program will help Maine prepare for and respond to future extreme storms and other climate change impacts.”
Mills faced backlash late last year for her response to a deadly and destructive mid-December windstorm in which she claimed that the National Weather Service (NWS) did not properly warn her about the storm’s severity.
Governor Mills deflected blame for Maine's lack of preparedness for the recent storm to the National Weather Service. pic.twitter.com/egh14zozHl— The Maine Wire (@TheMaineWire) December 20, 2023
A NWS spokesperson quickly rebutted the claim, stating that forecasts and briefings concerning the high rainfall and potential for widespread flooding were provided to local and state officials beginning three days prior to the storm on December 18.
Due to the storm’s severity and the extent of its impact on the state, Mills sought aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). This request was granted by the Biden Administration at the end of January.
With President Joe Biden’s Major Disaster Declaration, funding was made available to the state to cover the costs associated with public infrastructure repairs, as well as to provide direct assistance to eligible individuals and families that “experienced severe property damage” as a result of the storm.
“The President’s approval unlocks federal relief funds that will help hard-hit Maine communities and families move forward from last month’s storm,” Mills said in a press release announcing the declaration. “My Administration will continue to do everything possible to help Maine recover from recent catastrophic weather events and to make our communities more resilient to the impacts of our changing climate.”
In describing the Maine Grid Resilience Program, the governor’s press release on Friday explained that in addition to “supporting grid resilience” throughout the state, the program also “aims to support Maine’s climate and clean energy goals and further expand Maine’s clean energy economy, which is the fastest growing in New England.”
According to the program’s webpage, the Maine Grid Resilience Program seeks to:
- “Increase resilience of the electric grid and decrease the frequency and duration of outages, including within disadvantaged communities and areas experiencing a high frequency and/or long durations of outages;
- “Improve community and economic resilience and empower electric customers and communities to be resilient to disruptive events;
- “Increase clean energy workforce opportunities and ensure alignment with existing state initiatives; and
- “Align with ongoing electric grid modernization and state policy climate goals while mitigating disproportionate energy burdens.”
Entities applying for a portion of the program’s newly-awarded $4.4 million in federal funding must submit their applications by March 28.