News Release
Release No.STELPRD4019378
ContactEmily Cannon(207) 990-9175
Bangor, ME, Dec 20, 2012 --

    @@United States Department of Agriculture ♦ Rural Development in Maine ♦ 967 Illinois Ave, Suite 4

Bangor, ME 04402-0405 ♦Voice (207) 990-9160 ♦ Email:



Emily Cannon (207) 990-9175

                Rural Development, Public Affairs

Monhegan Plantation Power District Selected to Receive USDA Rural Development High Energy Cost Grant of $420,154

Monhegan Residents Pay Highest Electricity Rates in the State


BANGOR December 20, 2012 – Agriculture Under Secretary for Rural Development Dallas Tonsager has announced funding to help reduce energy costs for residents of remote rural areas where the cost of producing electricity is extremely high. The funds are being provided through USDA’s High Energy Cost Grant program.

In Maine, Monhegan Plantation Power District has been selected to receive a High Energy Cost Grant in the amount of $420,154.  Funding will be used to replace the current switchgear, add a smaller, 40 kW generator to the power station’s fleet, and add a 13 kW solar array to the power station’s roof. This project will lower and stabilize electricity costs on Monhegan Island, which has the highest electricity rate in the state ($0.70 per kilowatt hour) and one of the highest in the nation. In addition to replacing aging and outdated equipment, the new switchgear will make services safer and more reliable while integrating renewable energy through solar and opening doors for future utilization of renewable energy sources.

USDA Rural Development State Director Virginia Manuel said, “I am extremely pleased that USDA Rural Development can provide the substantial grant funds needed to move this essential energy saving project forward on one of Maine’s key island communities. This critical upgrade to the electrical infrastructure on Monhegan Island will reduce rates while reducing use of diesel fuel and taking full advantage of solar energy.”

The Island Institute has been working closely with Monhegan Plantation Power District to help facilitate funding. Island Institute President Elect Rob Snyder said, "Energy is the highest cost import to island communities and to Monhegan specifically. These USDA funds are critical to ensuring reliable and affordable energy for Monhegan and are critical to the future sustainability of this island community."

The program is administered by USDA Rural Development's Rural Utilities Service. Recipients use funds to improve energy generation, transmission or distribution facilities that serve communities where the average residential cost for home energy exceeds 275 percent of the national average. Grants are available to businesses, non-profit entities, states, local governments and federally recognized Indian tribes.

The funding announced today totals more than $9.3 million. Funding for individual recipients is contingent upon their meeting the conditions of the grant agreement.

USDA Rural Development has Area Offices located in Presque Isle, Bangor, Lewiston, and Scarborough, as well as a State Office, located in Bangor. There are 64 employees working to deliver the agency’s Housing, Business, and Community Programs, which are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, and farmers, and improve the quality of life in rural Maine. Further information on rural programs is available at a local USDA Rural Development office or by visiting USDA Rural Development's web site at