Over 80 percent of Maine’s homes and businesses heat by oil. Until now there hasn’t been a comprehensive law to help residents and businesses cut heating costs with weatherization programs available to all citizens.
A new law establishes a state energy agency, which will direct tens of millions of dollars into weatherization, conservation, and efficiency programs. The Efficiency Maine Trust and Board will be designed to organize the state’s numerous energy-related programs together under one roof and launch an unprecedented effort to transition Maine’s economy from its dependence on oil to alternative energy sources. In the process, thousands of jobs could be created.
To kick-start that effort Recovery Act funds have been allocated to Maine. The state will be getting over $16 million for the Weatherization Assistance Program, which can help reduce heating bills for low and moderate income families across the state.
“We have some of the oldest housing stock in the country,” said Congresswomen Pingree. “This money is going to make it possible for families to add insulation, plug leaks and install more efficient heating systems. And this weatherization work will create jobs right here in Maine. These investments will save people money on their utility bills and put Mainers back to work.”
Maine is also in line to get nearly $11 million for the State Energy Program, which is administered by the Public Utilities Commission in Maine as part of Efficiency Maine. Examples of existing State Energy Program initiatives include low-interest loans for energy conservation, installations by small businesses and free energy audits for small businesses.
“This funding will create jobs and provide help to Mainers who need assistance the most,” said Congressman Michaud. “It will help our families and businesses in Maine promote efficiencies and save money on energy bills.”
The new energy law sets aggressive goals to end Maine’s economy-draining dependency on foreign fuels.
• Weatherize all residences and 50 percent of businesses by 2030.
• Reduce peak electric energy consumption by 100 megawatts by 2020.
• Reduce the state’s consumption of liquid fossil fuels by at least 30 percent by 2030.
• Build private-sector jobs in clean energy businesses.
• Reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
• Achieve reductions in usage of electricity and natural gas by 2020.
Also a fund is established to build and rehabilitate affordable housing, making them more energy efficient, affordable, and available. Maine State Housing Authority will set up a new program to build and rehabilitate affordable rental units and replace older manufactured housing. Money would come from revenue bonds and a portion of the state’s real estate transfer tax to fund this portion of the law.
“This measure frames the direction of energy policy in Maine over the next decade,” said John Kerry, the state’s energy office director. “It’s a major part of the state’s comprehensive energy policy, and Gov. John Baldacci’s vision.”