Consider the Lobster and Electricity: Helping Meet the Energy Challenges of Maine’s Small Islands

Most island communities do not have economies of scale or local fossil fuel resources, two key factors contributing to significant increases in energy costs relative to mainland peers. A case in point is two islands located off the coast of Maine—Isle au Haut and Monhegan, both of which are currently weighing their energy futures. The Energy Department and EERE are helping to address those challenges through the Energy Transition Initiative (ETI), which provides technical assistance and resources to support communities that want to achieve clean energy goals and in the transition to a clean energy economy.

Islesboro School swaps old bulbs for LEDs with new grant

ISLESBORO, ME—Islesboro Central School (ICS) has been awarded $2,000 for LED lighting upgrades in the first grant from the Island Institute’s Spark! Fund. The Spark! Fund supports community-based energy projects with energy-saving and educational outcomes on Maine’s year-round islands and remote coastal communities.

Unplugging a way of life: Maine island eyes trading local control for cheaper electricity

On Swan’s Island and other islands, high energy costs have been a fact of life. Many places are considering how to change that, but the situation on each island is unique.
“About the only thing the islands in Maine have in common is that they’re islands,” Schwabe said.
Some, such as Swan’s Island, have connections to the mainland. Others generate all of their own electricity through a local utility and have no connection, such as Harbor Island, which guards Burnt Coat Harbor and sits in view of the Swan’s Island cooperative.

Island Institute will increase energy efficiency projects in rural communities with $230,000 U.S. Department of Energy grant

ROCKLAND, ME—Just as Maine homeowners prepare for another heating season, Rockland-based Island Institute is gearing up to implement “Bridging the Rural Efficiency Gap,” a two-year, $232,351 project recently funded by the U.S. Department of Energy State Energy Program Competitive Grant program through the Maine Governor’s Energy Office (GEO). 

Homeowners with solar panels affect your power bill. Maine’s debating whether that’s fair.

“When homeowners with rooftop solar panels generate more electricity than they need, they can sell that excess power back to the utility company.
That has made installing solar power affordable for many Mainers. But other customers are footing part of the bill for those payments, and with solar power growing in popularity, regulators are concerned that’s not fair.

Students light the way for Islesboro School LED retrofit

A student-led group at Islesboro Central School (ICS) is working to implement an inspiring energy project. In partnership with the Islesboro Energy Team (IET) and supported by a grant from the Island Institute’s Community Energy Action Team (CEAT) program, the students have been investigating the school’s electricity use since March 2016. As you can see in Finn’s quote above, they are motivated by concerns over the climate, a desire to find improved solutions for their school, and to reduce waste. The students calculated that the school spends an average of $3,425 each year on lighting alone.

Islands, Great and Small, Find Common Energy Solutions

Monhegan Island, Isle au Haut, and Matinicus Island face critical junctures in their energy future.Monhegan and Matinicus have the highest electricity rates in New England, and Isle au Haut is reliant on a 33-year-old, two-inch-thick cable as its sole connection to the mainland for power. t the end of March, representatives from power companies on all three islands visited Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard, MA to share experiences and strategies from their work creating sustainable energy systems as part of the Island Institute’s third annual Southern New England Exchange Trip.

Communities matter in offshore wind development

Like moths to a flame, the press was all over the start of construction on the Block Island Wind Farm last July.  After a decade-plus of starts and lawsuit-induced stops, America’s first offshore wind project was finally being built.  The stories covered the prerequisite details: size of the project, cost, technology being used, and of course the politics behind it.  Absent from most discussions, however, were voices from the project’s host community, Block Island.