Energy forum outlines credit, rebate plans

Posted Aug. 26, 2009, at 10:20 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — Few people are averse to saving money when buying a house or to making energy-efficiency improvements to a home they already own; the roadblocks often are how to find those savings or how to pay for improvements.

These days, more and more state and federal tax credit and rebate programs are being made available. Consumers just need to know where to look.

Sen. Joseph Perry, D-Bangor, held an energy forum on Wednesday — the second in as many years — to educate the public on the resources available and how to find them. He even invited a couple of experts to speak: Maine State Housing Authority Director Dale McCormick and Maine Public Utilities Energy Programs Director John Brautigam.

McCormick spoke mostly about MaineHousing’s Gift of Green program for homebuyers, which allots $5,000 to first-time homebuyers to use for down payments or closing costs. This can be coupled with the well-publicized $8,000 federal tax credit. She said the goal is for consumers to take those savings and apply at least a part of them to energy improvements that could save even more in the long run.

MaineHousing also has a host of other programs related to weatherization efforts, home energy audits and more, McCormick said, but all are income-specific. Guidelines can be found on its Web site, www.mainehousing.org.

Brautigam, who oversees the PUC program known as Efficiency Maine, outlined the programs he offers, most of which are related to electricity and heating cost-saving measures. He stressed that people don’t have to retrofit their home. Often simple efficiency improvements such as converting to compact fluorescent lights, buying Energy Star appliances and adding insulation can go a long way. All of Efficiency Maine’s programs can be found online at www.efficiencymaine.com.

Wednesday’s forum at Bangor City Hall was sparsely attended, but it was broadcast on the city’s public access channel. Additionally, several area legislators were in attendance and vowed to take the information presented to their constituents.

Perry said his aim was to make sure people knew about programs, especially ones that will expire before the year ends.

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