Utilities, power generators and others can apply for funding to strengthen the state’s electric grid, which has been vulnerable to recent destructive storms, Gov. Janet Mills said Friday.

The $4.4 million in federal funds awarded to Maine under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will pay for resilience projects such as weatherizing technology and equipment, moving electrical infrastructure underground, improving vegetation and utility pole management and other projects.

Several roads in Bath were closed due to downed power lines like these from a storm on Dec. 18. Contributed photo by Bath Police Department

The goals are to increase resilience of the electric grid and reduce the frequency and duration of power outages, including within disadvantaged communities and areas where outages are common and last for long periods. The grants also aim to improve clean energy workforce opportunities and meet electric grid modernization and state climate policy objectives while reducing disproportionate energy burdens.

A powerful storm lashed much of Maine a week before Christmas, killing four people and knocking out power to 400,000 electricity customers. Back-to-back storms in January brought strong wind gusts, driving rain and historically high tides that caused flooding in coastal areas and prompted officials to close roads and beaches. Thousands of customers lost power during those storms.

Mills said more severe storms can be expected, which means that we need to take action now to strengthen our electrical grid. The state’s congressional delegation said in a statement that the federal funding will help support and modernize the Maine Grid Resilience projects to help reduce the number of power outages.

The Governor’s Energy Office anticipates receiving an additional $6.6 million for grid resilience projects over the next few years. Eligible applicants could be electric utilities, electricity generators, storage operators and others.

The request for applications to the program is available to view on the Governor’s Energy Office website. An informational meeting on the program is scheduled for Feb. 28 and proposals are due March 28. More details are available online.

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