New DOE program allocates $7 million in energy grants for low-income residents

By Ramona du Houx - August 19th, 2010 · 

Six local weatherization agencies have been selected to receive $7 million to install solar hot water systems, hot water heat pumps, to replace inefficient washers with ENERGY STAR-qualified models, and to perform select heating system upgrades. Maine State Housing will monitor the program.

The new initiative was announced in mid-August on a press conference call with the Department of Energy’s Assistant Secretary Cathy Zoi, and Governor John Baldacci.

“We’ve been aggressive about trying to achieve energy independence. Our goal is to weatherize all homes and half of our businesses by 2030. We’re off to a good start with the help of recovery act funds,” said Governor Baldacci. “It’s an important goal because we know that conservation is the most cost effective way to reduce our dependence on oil. By investing in weatherization we can help families keep more of their hard earned money, create good jobs and reduce the amount of pollution in our environment.”

The Governor was chosen to speak to reporters nationwide because of his leadership and experience in weatherization and clean energy efforts.

“Maine has been a leader in weatherization and clean energy for some time. It’s a great model for other places,” said Zoi. “The state is certainly a stand out in this country, where vision meets practical reality. The work gets done well and is consistent with the Governor’s weatherization goals. It’s worthy of replication across the nation.”

This is the first time recovery act funds have been allocated to install renewable energy systems and cutting-edge energy efficiency technologies in homes to help low income families save even more on their energy bills.

Maine’s local agencies that will contract the work are:

  • Aroostook County Action Program, based in Presque Isle
  • Community Concepts, Inc. (CCI), located in South Paris
  • Kennebec Valley Community Action Program, based in Waterville
  • Penquis Community Action Program (PCAP), located in Bangor
  • Waldo Community Action Partners (WCAP), based in Belfast
  • Western Maine Community Action (WMCA), located in East Wilton

Each of the selected organizations across the nation has already met their milestone of weatherizing 30 percent of their total production goal and spending 30 percent of their Recovery Act funds. Maine is ahead of schedule.

“Maine has weatherized over 2,000 homes with Recovery Act funds,” said the governor. “That’s about half of what we have planed to do with the funds.”

Maine was the only state in New England to be awarded the top amount of $7 million. Six states in all were given $7 million.