Maine gets $27 million to help state weatherize

Posted July 10, 2009, at 7:39 p.m.

Maine will receive more than $27 million in federal stimulus funding for weatherization and renewable energy projects. The federal Department of Energy announced the funding Friday, part of more than $141 million for energy programs in six states and territories and $448 million for weatherization projects in 13 states.

Maine will receive $16.7 million for its weatherization program and $10.9 million for its State Energy Program. With Friday’s announcement, Maine will have received 50 percent of its total energy and weatherization funds from the federal stimulus package.

“This funding will create jobs and provide help to Mainers who need assistance the most,” U.S. Rep. Michael Michaud said in a statement. “It will help our families and businesses in Maine promote efficiencies and save money on energy bills.”

The weatherization funds will help tighten up and insulate nearly 4,400 Maine homes over the next three years. The state’s program will be expanded to include families above the current income eligibility threshold for weatherization assistance.

According to the DOE, weatherization reduces home heating bills by an average of $358 a year.

The funding announcement was praised by Maine’s U.S. senators, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins.

“One of the most effective and immediate ways we can help people stretch their energy dollars is through weatherization,” Collins and Snowe said in a joint statement. “It is estimated that low-income Mainers spend at least 14 percent of their income heating their homes. Experts estimate that every dollar spent insulating walls and attics, sealing drafty doors and windows, and repairing and replacing outdated or faulty heating equipment generates about $2.72 in savings over the life of a home. During these difficult economic times, this weatherization funding will help create savings for the citizens who need it the most.”

Maine developed the nation’s first weatherization program in 1973.

The stimulus funding for Maine’s energy program will be used to promote or expand energy efficiency in commercial, industrial and residential sectors while aiming to create and save jobs. The state will offer financial assistance for technical and engineering studies at the industrial facilities. Additionally, funding will go to expanding energy audits to businesses, allowing them to identify opportunities for energy savings.

Maine also aims to reduce energy use by implementing more energy-efficient building codes. The state will increase funding for a program that helps builders and business owners invest in upfront efficiencies in the design and construction of new commercial buildings.

The DOE will provide oversight of the spending at the local, state and national levels, with a goal of awarding funds quickly to help create new jobs and stimulate local economies.

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