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October 19, 2021

King Announces $6.65 Million to Support Smart Infrastructure in Maine, Advancing Broadband Connectivity and Lowering Energy Costs in the State

Governor Mills’ Energy Office, Post Road, Efficiency Maine welcome news of the investment in the smart grid project

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Angus King, co-chair of the Senate Broadband Caucus, today announced the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Connected Community Program has awarded the Post Road Foundation $6.65 million to lay the groundwork for high-speed broadband and efficient energy infrastructure across the state of Maine in partnership with the Efficiency Maine Trust. The funding will be used to create community models of a broadband-integrated smart grid that would lower energy costs and cut carbon emissions. These models will then be studied to evaluate feasibility throughout the state of Maine and nationwide.  

“In the 21st century, a high-speed broadband connection is fundamental to every facet of modern life – including our energy grid. This investment from the Department of Energy (DOE), will help the Post Road Foundation and Efficiency Maine invest in supporting smart infrastructure statewide, and use these resources to help reduce electricity costs and increase energy efficiency across Maine’s communities,” said Senator King. “From fishing and manufacturing to technology startups and financial services, all our state’s industries rely on the internet and will benefit from greener, more efficient energy. The partnership between the Post Road Foundation, Efficiency Maine, and the DOE is a perfect example of how the public and private sectors can work together to improve connectivity in a way that supports our economy and our environment, and I look forward to seeing the effects of this important funding.” 

Since 2018, Senator King and members of his staff have met and worked with the Post Road Foundation to advocate for the inclusion of Maine communities in this national smart grid project. After this advocacy, Post Road announced an original feasibility study to facilitate investments in high-speed internet and intelligent infrastructure in five regions nationwide – three of the five projects selected were in Maine.   

"Post Road is honored to have been selected as a Connected Community awardee and to work with such a great team. With this funding we will evaluate the ability of a unique broadband-enabled smart grid technology to meet the future energy needs of Mainers and rural residents across the U.S, said Seth Hoedl, President & Chief Science Officer, Post Road Foundation. “We expect that we will demonstrate that transactive energy can lower electricity and heating costs, facilitate the deployment of solar panels, wind turbines and distributed energy resources, and help Mainers and others meet their sustainability, reliability and environmental goals.”  The smart grid project will be done in collaboration with Efficiency Maine, integrating existing Maine devices and energy infrastructure into the new Post Road supported systems.  

"We are excited to work with the Post Road Foundation team to test this promising technology in Maine," said Ian Burnes, Director of Strategic Initiatives at Efficiency Maine. "Our aim is to help Maine consumers get the maximum cost savings from beneficial electrification—such as from their tens of thousands of newly installed heat pump water heaters and similar devices—and improving grid reliability at the same time." 

"We applaud the U.S. Department of Energy's award to this project that will directly support innovation in rural Maine," said Dan Burgess, Director of the Maine Governor's Energy Office. "Maine is leading on policy that is combatting climate change, advancing clean energy and energy efficiency, and this grant shows our state is on the cutting edge of energy technology as well." 

The Post Road Foundation’s non-profit platform aims to bridge the gap between communities and investors by helping to reduce barriers to the development, financing, and deployment of sustainable infrastructure, particularly in places lacking 21st century communications.  

The Efficiency Maine Trust is an independent administrator for programs to improve the efficiency of energy use and reduce greenhouse gases in the State of Maine. They primarily deliver financial incentives on the purchase of high-efficiency equipment and changes to operations that help customers save electricity, natural gas, and other fuels throughout the state. 

As co-chair of the bipartisan Senate Broadband Caucus, Senator King has been a strong advocate for expanding affordable broadband access as a way to increase economic opportunity in rural Maine – and has raised the issue consistently during the coronavirus pandemic – securing $10 billion in funding for broadband in the American Rescue Plan, as well as more than $7 billion to close the digital divide for students nationwide. The March edition of Senator King’s “Inside Maine” podcast focused on this historic investment during a conversation with Tilson Technologies’ Josh Broder, and Pew Charitable Trusts’ Kathryn de Wit. Senator King has also urged the Biden Administration to update federal standards for high-speed broadband to reflect modern uses, calling for updating the definition of high-speed broadband to 100 megabits per second of upload and download speed. 

Senator King also worked to secure broadband funds in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA)which is being considered in the House and will invest $65 billion in broadband infrastructure across the nation. The legislation’s broadband provisions include over $40 billion in block grants to states and $2 billion for tribal governments, mirroring the bipartisan BRIDGE Act introduced by Senators King, Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) earlier this year. The IIJA also includes Senator King’s Digital Equity Actinvesting $2.75 billion in an array of projects at the state and local level that promote “digital equity.”

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