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Maine getting $4 million in federal funds to improve resilience of electrical grid

 A downed utility pole on Route 1 in Orland in December.
Murray Carpenter
Maine Public
A downed utility pole on Route 1 in Orland in December.

Maine is getting more than $4 million in federal funds to improve the weather resilience of the electrical grid.

Dan Burgess, director of the Governor’s Energy Office, says more than 1,000 utility poles were damaged in this winter's storms, and the Maine Grid Resilience Program is looking for creative ideas to strengthen the system.

"Whether it's utility pole management, grid weatherization or upgrades such as software that can improve resilience, we're excited to see what comes in," he says.

Burgess says one focus of the program is on $1 million projects involving smaller utilities in rural areas. The maximum project award is $2 million, and a funding match is required for bigger projects from utilities, storage operators and other entities that apply.

"It's these storms that underscore the need to use these federal funds to make critical investments so that Maine homes and businesses have access to reliable electricity. So I think it's good timing these funds are being made available to Maine," he says.

An informational meeting on the program will be held Feb. 28. Applications are due by March 28.

The U.S. Department of Energy is making the funding available through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

Another $6 million in federal funding for other grid resilience projects is expected in the future.