Governor Mills made the announcement recently during “Communities Leading on Climate,” a conference convened by the Maine Climate Council that was held at the Augusta Civic Center.
The new initiative from Efficiency Maine comes at a time of rising prices for heating fuels and represents a significant investment in public-sector energy efficiency that will reduce costs to taxpayers, increase energy cost stability, and decrease carbon emissions.
This energy efficiency initiative is just one of many from Efficiency Maine funded by the Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan. In May, Governor Mills announced a $4 million program to support energy efficiency upgrades for Maine travel, tourism, and hospitality businesses, which were hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. In total, Efficiency Maine is receiving $50 million from the Governor’s Jobs Plan for weatherization and energy efficiency in Maine homes, businesses, and local government buildings.
“Maine people, businesses, and communities are too dependent on imported oil and gas from big fossil fuel companies, and nothing illustrates that more than the sky-high prices that we’re all now paying for them,” said Governor Mills.
“This funding through my Jobs Plan can be used by schools and municipalities to cut their energy costs, transition away from fossil fuels, and become more energy efficient – a move that will also save taxpayers money in the long-run. It’s a win-win.”
“The allocation of funds from the Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan to invest in upgrades to the heating and cooling systems of Maine’s public schools and other public buildings could not come at a better time,” said Efficiency Maine Executive Director Michael Stoddard.
“Through this initiative, qualifying public buildings have a pathway to get off the roller coaster of heating oil and propane prices and lower their carbon footprint.”
The first phase of this new program – $8 million for school efficiency projects – opens Monday, June 20, for public schools. The next phase – $4 million for municipal efficiency projects – is expected to open in August. The final phase – $3 million for nonprofit residential facilities – will follow this fall.
These funds will be used primarily to reduce consumption of heating fuel by switching to high-performance heat pump systems. Funds can also be used to switch lighting systems to LEDs and upgrade refrigeration equipment. More information about the initiative for schools is now available on the Efficiency Maine website.
“We are constantly looking for ways to lower the cost of heating and lighting our schools,” said Andrew Madura, Director of Transportation, Facilities and Food services for SAD #61 in Naples. “And as the cost of fossil fuels continues to rise, the impact to budgets is significant. Programs like this one from Efficiency Maine are exactly what we need to help reduce our energy consumption and to fund some of our capital projects.”
“Energy costs for schools have increased exponentially. Helping districts control those costs will benefit both students and taxpayers. Less reliance on oil and propane, in general, will improve air quality, and that is a benefit for everyone,” said Steven Bailey, executive director of Maine School Management Association.
Applications for energy improvement funds under the initial offering for public schools will be accepted until either May 31, 2023, or until the funds are exhausted. Projects must be completed by Dec. 31, 2023.
Since 2019, more than 60,000 new high-efficiency heat pumps have been installed across Maine to address the state’s nation-leading dependency on heating oil and reduce harmful carbon emissions. The state’s climate plan, Maine Won’t Wait, has targeted installing 100,000 new heat pumps in Maine by 2025.
This new program builds on actions already taken by the Mills Administration to reduce costs for Maine people grappling with increased prices for heating fuel and electricity driven by volatile global fossil fuel markets. Those actions include:
Efficiency Maine is an independent administrator of programs in Maine to increase energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, primarily through offering financial incentives on the purchase of high-efficiency equipment or helping customers change operations to reduce energy costs. Visit efficiencymaine.com for more information.
The Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan is the Governor’s plan, approved by the Legislature, to invest nearly $1 billion in Federal American Rescue Plan funds to improve the lives of Maine people and families, help businesses, create good-paying jobs, and build an economy poised for future prosperity.
It draws heavily on recommendations from the Governor’s Economic Recovery Committee and the State’s 10-Year Economic Development Strategy, transforming them into real action to improve the lives of Maine people and strengthen the economy.