The US Dept. of Energy congratulates Maine on weatherization efforts

State goal of weatherizing all homes and half of the businesses by 2030

By Ramona du Houx

May 28th, 2010 

A home in Freeport being weatherized
A home in Freeport being weatherized
Washington, DC – The U.S. Department of Energy announced that Maine has weatherized 1,582 homes under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act as of April 30, 2010.

Maine has now weatherized more than 30 percent of their total targeted Recovery Act funded homes, which enables the state to receive the remainder of the funds allocated. In total – Recovery Act funding for weatherization of low-income homes for Maine is $41.9 million.

Maine was able to ramp up weatherization plans for recovery act funding quickly because the foundation had already been established. Governor John Baldacci made energy efficiency a top priority from the beginning of his administration. In Maine 80 percent of residents depend on heating oil.

“We are the most oil dependent state in the nation, due to old housing stock, and our climate. We are working aggressively to become energy independent,” said Governor John Baldacci.

Cathy Zoi, assistant secretary of energy efficiency and renewable energy at the U.S. Department of Energy, said Maine should be proud of its achievement to date with recovery act funds, and of its long-term commitment to weatherization efforts.

“Governor Baldacci’s goal of weatherizing all homes and half of the businesses by 2030 shows leadership and is visionary. I share that sort of vision. We are hoping that we can replicate some of the models Maine is using in other places,” said Zoi during a press conference call. “Maine is an excellent model for other states to follow.”

There is a plan to generate additional funds to meet the state’s weatherization goal by selling carbon emission offsets from the homes weatherized under the Recovery Act. Also, The Maine Efficiency Trust Fund will be collecting revenues once state land is leased to companies for transmission energy corridors. Some of those ‘rent’ funds would be allocated to help achieve the state’s goal to weatherize all homes by 2030 and half of Maine’s businesses.

“It’s not an easy goal to make, but Recovery Act funds have given us a jump start,” said the Governor. “We’re going to keep driving to meet our state goal, it’s important for our citizens well being, our economy, our national security, and our environment. We know that energy conservation is the most cost-effective way to reduce our dependence on oil.”

Under The Weatherization Assistance Program, Maine has partnered with nine local community action agencies and non-profits to provide whole-home weatherization services saving families an average of $437 on their energy bills every year.

“With Recovery Act funds we will weatherize 4,400 homes through the low-income weatherization program administered by MaineHousing. The program is helping thousands of people save money, while creating jobs,” said Baldacci.

MaineHousing said that more than 160 workers were employed by weatherization providers during the first three months of 2010.

The weatherization program includes conducting an energy audit in the home to identify the most cost-effective improvements and implementing solutions that range from installing additional insulation and weatherstripping, sealing windows and doors, caulking cracks in the building, and replacing inefficient heating and cooling systems.

“Weatherization has made a huge difference in my life,” said Fred Hatch of Readfield, a substitute teacher whose home was weatherized under the program by the Kennebec Valley Community Action Agency. “The program paid to weatherize my home and replace my 40-year old hot air heating system with a new, energy efficient model. Because of the weatherization program I now can put into savings about $300 a month, money set aside for unexpected emergencies.”

U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu, who will be visiting the state June 14, said, “Maine is moving forward aggressively with the weatherization program, delivering energy and cost savings for the families who need it most. This Recovery Act funding is helping to create jobs in local communities while putting America on the path to a clean energy future.”

For more information please call 2-1-1, contact MaineHousing.org or a community action agency in your community.