Energy Secretary Steven Chu with Governor John Baldacci of Maine at the UMaine AWEC laboratories last summer. Photo: Ramona du Houx

By Ramona du Houx

September 9th, 2010

Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu today announced the investment of $28.5 million to 12 states and territories to support energy efficiency projects that will lower energy bills, boost job growth, and increase investment in companies that deliver energy-saving technologies.

Maine will be awarded $4,538,571 for retrofits. Maine will accelerate comprehensive energy retrofits in small-to-medium multi-family apartment buildings (5-20 units) through a multi-year energy efficiency strategy. Serving a market of more than 53,000 units, the project will seek to: reduce energy consumption by 25 percent or greater in 2 percent of eligible multi-family units per year by 2013; establish a sustainable financial model to ultimately reach 19 percent of such buildings in Maine by 2021; and expand the program model to multi-family buildings in other Northeast states.

The awards will also help generate the necessary policy and program frameworks to support private-sector investment in energy efficiency for the long-term. This initiative is part of the Obama Administration’s national strategy to promote domestic job creation, while delivering innovative energy efficiency technologies to the residential and commercial building markets and addressing barriers to bringing high-efficiency buildings within reach for all Americans.

“These state initiatives will spur the economy and create jobs across the country by making targeted investments in the growing energy efficiency market and using smarter policies to engage the private sector,” said Secretary Chu. “The projects will demonstrate the high rate of return on energy-saving improvements to homes and businesses, achieve significant long-term benefits for local communities, and act as a model for future public-private energy efficiency partnerships.”

Existing techniques and technologies in energy efficiency retrofitting – such as air-tight ducts, insulation and caulking , efficient and properly installed heating and cooling systems, and building control systems – can reduce energy use in homes and buildings by up to 40 percent and cut energy bills by $40 billion annually. These awards add to the momentum generated by DOE’s ongoing whole-building retrofit initiatives that are making energy efficiency retrofits easily accessible to hundreds of thousands of American homes and businesses.