BANGOR, Maine — The area’s largest energy supplier has applied for $4.3 million in federal stimulus funding to implement what is known as Smart Grid technology to rural parts of Maine.
Bangor Hydro-Electric Co., a subsidiary of Emera Inc., has proposed an $8.8 million, three-year project and hopes to have up to 50 percent of it paid by the U.S. Department of Energy. The rest would be paid for through user rates.
“Smart Grid investment is increasing at a rapid pace in the United States, due in large part to recent economic stimulus funds,” said Kim Wadleigh, a vice president at Bangor Hydro. “These funds will make it possible for Bangor Hydro to accelerate its plans to equip customers with the tools and information to make better-informed decisions about their electricity consumption.”
Smart Grid effectively delivers electricity using digital technology and better communications capabilities. If a problem arises, it’s detected immediately by computers, which then reroute power. When effective, the process saves energy, reduces cost and increases reliability for customers.
The federal energy department has $3 billion to distribute throughout the country for Smart Grid investments and will make its final decision by October. Susan Faloon, a communications officer with Bangor Hydro, said that if the federal stimulus money is not approved, the company still would go through with its plans, but it might take longer.
If the funds are approved, Bangor Hydro also plans to implement a rate trial for something called dynamic supply pricing. That would allow customers to view their own usage through a Web portal and would give customers discounts for using energy during off-peak hours.
“We believe that our customers will shift their electricity usage to off-peak time periods to take advantage of lower-cost supply prices and conserve more electricity when they have detailed information about how their individual electric appliances or circuits are actually using electricity,” said Bangor Hydro’s rate manager, Gradon Haehnel.