Congresswoman Chellie Pingree said today that Mohegan Island will be getting a $420,000 federal grant to improve the efficiency and reliability of the island's electrical grid. Pingree had urged the U. S. Department of Agriculture to award the grant, which is part of a program intended to help rural communities where the cost of electricity is extremely high.
"Year-round island living can be expensive and challenging, but island communities are a key part of Maine's working coastal economy," Pingree said. "The electric rates on Monhegan have consistently been in the top 20 highest rates in the whole country and that threatens the year-round nature of island communities."
"This grant is a game-changer for our year-round island community, which has faced extremely high energy costs since the cost of diesel skyrocketed in 2008," said Chris Smith, Operations Manager for the Monhegan Plantation Power District. "We are grateful for the support of the USDA, Congresswoman Pingree and the Island Institute in helping us take this giant step towards a more affordable, efficient and sustainable power system."
Currently Monhegan residents pay 70 cents per kilowatt-hour, more than 4 times the typical rate on the mainland.
The grant will fund a 13KW solar system, a new 40KW generator and a new switching system that will allow the power company to switch between different power sources. The new generator will be a more efficient option for producing electricity in the winter, when the island's population drops. The new switch allows the island to incorporate renewable energy sources like solar or wind power.