State secures rest of $42 million energy stimulus funds

Posted May 27, 2010, at 9:47 p.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine — Federal officials said Thursday that Maine has qualified for the remainder of nearly $42 million in stimulus funds aimed at weatherization and energy efficiency programs.

Maine is one of seven states that have completed at least 30 percent of the home projects targeted for weatherization as part of Maine’s application for federal stimulus funding.

Cathy Zoi, assistant secretary of energy efficiency and renewable energy at the U.S. Department of Energy, said meeting the 30 percent threshold means that Maine now has access to the remaining half of $41.9 million earmarked for the state in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Zoi also praised the state’s goal of weatherizing all homes and half of the businesses in the state by 2030.

“Maine is an excellent model for other states to follow,” Zoi said in a telephone press conference Thursday morning.

To date, Maine has used the federal stimulus funding to weatherize 1,582 homes owned by low-income individuals between last August and April 30. That is roughly one-third of the 4,400 homes slated for weatherization using the federal funds.

“It’s not an easy goal to make, but we’re off to a good start,” said Gov. John Baldacci.

Under the program, MaineHousing works with local community action agencies and nonprofit organizations to perform energy audits on homes and identify areas of improvement. On average, the weatherization projects reduce annual energy bills by $437, according to figures supplied by the state.

MaineHousing estimates that 160 workers were conducting weatherization during the first three months of the year.

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