Weatherization and Intergovernmental Programs Office Project Map – Maine

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Since 2010, Maine has received $29.5 million from the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) and $4 million from the State Energy Program (SEP), resulting in the following benefits: 

Maine homes weatherized
Maine jobs created and retained
Maine buildings retrofitted
Maine residents trained at workshops

* 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, more than 41,000 high efficiency ductless heat pumps have been installed in Maine homes and businesses, and more than 450 registered vendors are actively installing units in all areas of the state.

This effort began in 2012, when the 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 is launching version 2.0 of this program, better known as the 100,000 Heat Pump Challenge. Announced by Governor Mills earlier in the year, the goal of the program is to install an additional 100,000 heat pumps in Maine homes and businesses over the next 5 years. A tiered rebate system will make the program more accessible to households of all income levels. Additional support will be provided to low-income households that wish to participate with funding provided through Efficiency Maine and the Maine State Housing Authority.

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, a windstorm with unexpected force (which knocked out power to two-thirds of the state’s electricity customer), 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), are developing an energy emergency ‘field guide’ to assist emergency personnel to respond quickly and efficiently to energy-related emergencies. The plan will also identify vulnerabilities in energy supply chains and infrastructure, and include strategies to mitigate or eliminate emergencies resulting from these situations. The GEO and MEMA have assembled a large stakeholder group consisting of experts in the electricity, natural gas, and delivered fuels sectors; infrastructure; transportation; and emergency responders to identify vulnerabilities and develop response strategies. Timeline for completion is early 2020.

Developing an Energy and Economic Opportunity Roadmap

By early fall 2019, Maine will release its statewide Energy Roadmap, which was developed to help advance the state’s energy and economic development goals. The roadmap will provide a comprehensive baseline of state specific energy data, regularly updated, and accessible to the public. It will also include recommendations that advance the state’s energy and economic development goals, considering input from private, public, and non-profit stakeholders. Among the state energy-related statutory goals, the roadmap will address how to: 

  • Reduce oil use in home heating 30% by 2020
  • Achieve 20% savings in electric and natural gas efficiency programs by 2020
  • Reduce peak electricity demand of 300 megawatts by 2020
  • Weatherize 100% of homes and 50% of businesses by 2030.

In developing the roadmap, the team was guided by a steering committee comprised of leaders from the utility, regulatory, energy, environmental, university, and economic development sectors.  For a commentary published on the project, see Maine’s Energy Planning Roadmap – Energizing the Future.

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 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 efficiency of their homes, they face additional obstacles which prevent them from accessing financial incentives and loans to make energy efficiency 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 & 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.

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 2018, Maine weatherized an average of 268 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 2020 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 2014-2016, 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 and will work over three years to achieve portfolio-wide energy savings of 20% in their participating correctional facilities and collective cost savings of more than $250 million a year.

DOE has engaged more than 220 diverse partners in a set of 17 Better Buildings Accelerators, with more than 70 unique public-sector partners. The 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 Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) and supports DOE's mission to create greater energy affordability, security, and resiliency.

WIP’s mission is to enable strategic investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies through the use of innovative practices across the United States in partnership with a wide range of stakeholders, including 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 a team that develops and delivers 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.