MOUNT DESERT — It was reported last week that Mount Desert Island is one of 12 remote or island communities nationwide to be chosen by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to participate in the Energy Transitions Initiative Partnership Project.
The Islander has learned that MDI’s application to participate was submitted on behalf of the four MDI towns by A Climate to Thrive (ACTT), the nonprofit organization working to achieve energy independence for the island by 2030.
The DOE partnership will provide technical assistance to ACTT and the MDI towns to determine the best ways to transition the power grid to clean energy while increasing energy resilience and community energy capacity. The project, which will be done in partnership with the Island Institute, will assess opportunities for renewable energy integration, energy storage and efficiency and the viability of a microgrid to make the island resilient during extreme weather events.
ACTT said in its application to the DOE, “The MDI electrical grid is vulnerable to Nor’easters and coastal storms that are becoming more frequent and severe due to climate change, threatening distribution infrastructure with high winds. Further, MDI lies at the end of its distribution system. The condition of our grid has led to costly and sometimes project-crippling interconnection delays that have significantly hindered decarbonization efforts.”
ACTT noted in its application, “Power outages due to storms are not evenly spread across MDI because of a partial grid upgrade performed several years ago that took place on the east side of the island, leaving the grid on the less populated and less affluent west side more vulnerable…due to its aging grid infrastructure and single distribution line.”
ACTT said the specific goals of the DOE-assisted project include “understanding viable pathways to 100 percent clean energy integration on the MDI grid by 2030… building energy resilience to the impacts of climate change through a network of microgrids serving critical community loads at key locations…and building community capacity to deploy projects through transfer of knowledge to ACTT staff.”