Since 2010, Maine has received $33.2 million from the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) and $5 million from the State Energy Program (SEP), resulting in the following benefits:

The total number of homes weatherized.
Number of jobs created by SEP in Maine
The number of building space retrofitted and upgraded in Maine.
Number of people impacted by energy efficiency installations

* Findings from a National Evaluation of the State Energy Program and a National Evaluation of the Weatherization Assistance Program.   

** States report outcomes of State Energy Program and Weatherization Assistance Program formula (annual) fund activities to DOE on a quarterly basis. The metrics above are outcomes of formula-funded activities since 2010.

Maine's State Energy Program at Work

High-Efficiency Heat Pump Program

Maine is working to transform the way its citizens heat their homes and businesses by removing barriers to the adoption of ductless cold-climate heat pumps, a significantly improved electric heating technology. Maine has the highest percentage of homes primarily heated by oil boilers and furnaces in the country. Since the inception of the Heat Pump Program in late 2014, and including the heat pump challenge described below, more than 81,000 high-efficiency ductless heat pumps have been installed in Maine homes and businesses, and more than 600 registered vendors are actively installing units in all areas of the state.

This effort began in 2012, when Maine's Governor's Office sponsored a bill authorizing a pilot program to test the efficacy of this new technology in the northern (i.e., coldest) part of the state. With support and input from the Governor's Energy Office, the program was a collaborative effort between a large electric utility and Efficiency Maine Trust. The pilot program installed 1,000 heat pumps in less than a year. The success of this pilot led to the rollout of the statewide market-based incentive program in 2014, administered by Efficiency Maine as part of the Home Energy Savings Program (HESP).    

In 2019, Maine launched version 2.0 of this program, better known as the 100,000 Heat Pump Challenge. Announced by Governor Mills early in 2019, and later formalized in statute, the goal of the program is to install an additional 100,000 heat pumps in Maine homes and businesses over the next 5 years. An enhanced, tiered rebate system was established to make the program more accessible to households of all income levels.

Additional support is being provided to LIHEAP eligible low-income households that also wish to participate in the heat pump program. Funding is provided through Efficiency Maine and the Maine State Housing Authority. Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, in FY2020, Maine incentivized more than 28,000 high-efficiency heat pumps, putting the state well on its way to installing an additional 100,000 heat pumps by 2025.

Maine Offshore Wind Initiative

In 2019, Governor Mills directed the Governor's Energy Office to establish the state's Offshore Wind Initiative. The Gulf of Maine has one of the highest quality wind resources of any area off the East Coast. 

Using a several-pronged approach, this initiative aims to identify development opportunities for offshore wind and determine how Maine can best position itself to benefit from future projects. This includes identifying opportunities for job creation; supply chain and port development; and offshore wind's impact on Maine's energy future. 

The initiative also includes promoting compatibility between potential future uses and existing uses in the Gulf of Maine, to inform offshore wind siting considerations and minimize any impact on Maine's commercial fishing and maritime industries.

Components of the Offshore Wind Initiative include:

  • Long-term contract for floating offshore wind demonstration project
  • Maine floating offshore wind roadmap
  • Maine port infrastructure study
  • Participation in the Gulf of Maine Intergovernmental Renewable Energy Task Force
  • Gulf of Maine floating offshore research array.

Developing an Actionable Energy Assurance and Emergency Management Plan

For the first time since 2011, Maine is developing an update of its Energy Assurance/Energy Emergency Plan. Since the 2011 plan was released, the state has experienced several energy-related emergencies, including a severe propane shortage, an unexpectedly fierce windstorm, which knocked out power to two-thirds of the state's electricity customers, and a severe extended cold period that tested the state's and northeast region's response capacity.

These events highlighted the need for a current, response-focused energy emergency plan. The Governor's Energy Office (GEO), in collaboration with the Maine Emergency Management Agency (MEMA), is developing an energy emergency field guide that will lay out communication protocols to assist state government and emergency personnel to respond quickly and efficiently to energy-related emergencies. The GEO and MEMA are working with stakeholders and experts in the electricity, natural gas, and delivered fuels sectors, along with infrastructure, transportation, and emergency responders to develop response strategies. 

During several meetings, stakeholders identified numerous vulnerabilities in energy delivery infrastructure and supply chain. They also recommended many possible resilience-building and mitigation actions. This stakeholder input led to the development of a two-phase approach. Phase one will focus on responses to immediate energy emergencies, and phase two will consist of more formal vulnerability analysis and development of resilience-building strategies. Due to a redeployment of resources during the COVID-19 pandemic, completion of the plan was delayed. The timeline for completion of phase one is now late 2021.

Expanding Access to Energy Efficiency in Remote, High-Energy Cost Communities

Maine is expanding access to energy-efficiency financing programs in rural and remote communities throughout the state. Residents of these communities are highly dependent on petroleum fuels for space heating and often live in older housing stock, resulting in high heating costs. However, despite having compelling reasons to increase the energy efficiency of their homes, they face additional obstacles which prevent them from accessing financial incentives and loans to make the upgrades.

The Governor's Energy Office and the Island Institute, along with partners from the cold climate and heating oil-dependent states of New Hampshire, Vermont, and Alaska, documented the additional obstacles residents in rural and remote communities face to become more energy efficient. The project team developed, documented, and disseminated replicable models that help bridge the gap existing in remote and rural communities, so they also can make their homes more energy-efficient and lower their energy costs. Strategies documented include utilizing local, community-based organizations to educate and promote the programs, as well as using aggregated demand and deployment strategies to leverage the collective buying power of rural residents. Although the project’s primary goal was to document strategies states are using to increase energy efficiency in rural areas, outreach performed during the process is expected to save rural Mainers approximately $130,000 in annual energy costs. 

For more information about the strategies documented, and how other states can adapt these models for use in their own rural communities, see Bridging the Rural Efficiency Gap.

Building on the work documented during this project, a subsequent effort to continue "bridging" work in islanded and remote communities in Maine is underway at the Island Institute. The Energy Transitions Initiative Partnership Project (ETIPP), a new program at the U.S. Department of Energy, pairs community-based partners with remote and islanded communities to receive technical assistance and planning to increase energy resilience. An example of this is planning is for a microgrid in Eastport. The goal is for the microgrid to provide backup electricity, while also integrating locally generated tidal power. 

Learn more about SEP competitively awarded projects.

Maine's Weatherization Assistance Program at Work

The Maine State Housing Authority is the managing agency for Maine's Weatherization Assistance Program. The Maine WAP contracts with local community action agencies and nonprofits to install weatherization improvements in low-income households throughout the state.

Maine has successfully run a weatherization program since before such a program existed. Also, the state has innovated by developing the "carbon project" to translate weatherization savings into carbon for use in regional greenhouse gas markets.

Between 2010 and 2021, Maine weatherized an average of 267 homes per year with formula funds.

To learn more about other successful SEP or DOE projects, visit SEP Success Stories or the EERE Success Stories Project Map.  

Maine Takes Initiative

Better Buildings Initiative

More than 900 organizations are involved in the Better Buildings Initiative working to reduce energy and water waste and modernize the nation's buildings and industrial facilities. Download the 2021 Better Buildings Progress Report for more information on the Initiative as a whole.

Better Buildings Accelerators

The city of Portland, a partner in the Outdoor Lighting Accelerator from 2014 to 2016, pledged to upgrade its street lights as a part of a nationwide commitment to retrofit 1.3 million light poles with high performance lighting. These commitments are expected to result in annual savings of $48 million. See the Outdoor Lighting Toolkit for more information and demonstrated best practices.

The state of Maine is a participant in the Sustainable Corrections Infrastructure Partnership (SCIP) Accelerator, a voluntary partnership of state and local public correctional facilities working with DOE over three years (2021-2024) to achieve portfolio-wide energy and water savings of 20%, implement energy management systems, and create replicable solutions to catalyze energy resilience in the corrections sector. As of November 2021, SCIP had 17 partners consisting of 16 states and 1 county that represent almost 30% of state correctional facilities in the United States.

In the past five years, WIP has engaged nearly 100 partners in Better Buildings Accelerators. These Accelerators are designed to demonstrate specific innovative policies and approaches, which will accelerate investment in energy efficiency upon successful demonstration. Each Accelerator is a targeted, short-term, partner-focused activity designed to address persistent barriers that stand in the way of greater efficiency.

To learn more about other Better Buildings partners and solutions in Maine and other states involved in the Better Buildings Initiative, check out the Better Buildings Partner map.

Publications, Resources, Helpful Links

About WIP

The Weatherization and Intergovernmental Programs Office (WIP) is part of the DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) and supports a national energy strategy to create greater energy affordability, security, and resiliency.

WIP’s mission is to enable strategic investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies with innovative practices across the United States by a wide range of stakeholders, in partnership with state and local organizations and community-based non-profits.

WIP is made up of two programs focused on state and local governments—the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) and the State Energy Program (SEP)—and two teams that develop and deliver targeted technical assistance and strategic initiatives to state and local governments.

SEP and WAP provide funding and technical assistance to states, territories, the District of Columbia, and Native American tribes to enhance energy security, advance state-led energy initiatives, maximize the benefits of decreasing energy waste, and reduce energy costs for low-income households. Each state is the decision maker and administrator for SEP and WAP program activities within the state that are tailored to their unique resources, delivery and production capacity, and energy goals.