Project Overview

Current System
Monhegan is one of two Maine islands not connected to the mainland by an undersea cable. Instead, our electricity comes from a three-generator, 300 kW diesel power station located at the top of Lighthouse Hill. Since the generators were installed in 2000, we have slowly been upgrading our distribution system so that it now services the vast majority of the island. Read more about the design of our diesel system.

The MPPD system was originally designed with the intention to one day operate as a renewable-diesel hybrid but as of 2009, MPPD is still 100% diesel dependent. When fuel prices skyrocketed in 2007 and 2008, it became virtually impossible for us to continue to cover our operating costs without raising our rate. In September 2008, Maine Public Utilities Commission (MPUC) granted our emergency request to temporarily increase our rate to 70 cents/kWh. We are currently working with MPUC to reassess our rate but in the meantime our customers are paying more than seven times the national average for their electricity.

The Need for an Alternative
We do not believe that a diesel dependent system is a sustainable solution for Monhegan in either the short or long term. Unfortunately, running an undersea cable to Monhegan would require millions of dollars upfront, not to mention millions in repair and replacement costs. Moreover, we would still be left to rely on diesel when there were outages on the mainland or problems with the line.

Monhegan Wind
In July 2008, the MPPD Board of Trustees voted unanimously to further explore the feasibility of a wind power project on Monhegan. They had taken into consideration the findings of researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Tufts University that highlighted the island’s excellent wind resource and the major savings that could be attained through a wind-diesel hybrid. Other important factors included the progress of the wind project on the nearby Fox Islands and Governor Baldacci’s support for wind power development in Maine.

In September 2008, members of the Monhegan community packed the schoolhouse to learn more about the potential of a wind power project on the island. A number of thoughtful questions were asked and overall the audience that night was very positive. Soon after, MPPD announced that it would begin the necessary pre-development feasibility work.

A number of questions remain to be answered for the Monhegan project and MPPD is committed to getting the answers before moving any further. By working with the Island Institute, we have partnered with a team comprised of Dr. George Baker, Philip Conkling, Dr. Richard Podolsky and Suzanne Pude. They will help us learn more about our wind resource, potential environmental impacts (involving both birds and sound), the logistics of getting a turbine to the island and the economics behind the project. We plan to begin sharing the results of their work in May 2009 with the aim of bringing the project to a ratepayer vote in mid-summer.

Please check back for updates on our progress or contact us with your questions.