As heating prices continue to rise and winter approaches, Gov. Janet Mills on Thursday announced millions of dollars in state investments to help Mainers weatherproof their homes, cover heating bills and train for careers in clean energy.
Mills was in Brewer to announce the investments, which include more than $30 million the state has received through the American Rescue Plan passed by Congress in March. The Maine state government is receiving $1 billion under that federal legislation that it’s spending under the Maine Jobs and Recovery Plan.
Some $25 million in federal aid is available through an Efficiency Maine Trust program to help residents weatherproof their homes, Mills said during an event at General Insulation on Baker Boulevard.
The money would cover the cost of weatherizing about 3,500 homes.
“Making homes and businesses more energy efficient through weatherization cuts down on our use of harmful fossil fuels, protects our environment, and saves people money,” Mills said, noting Maine’s status as the most heating-oil dependent state in the U.S.
Michael Stoddard, executive director of Efficiency Maine Trust, said that his agency would begin reaching out to Bangor-area homeowners next week to see if they needed help weatherizing their homes, such as by adding insulation, in anticipation of winter.
Another $5.5 million would be set aside for investments in training for careers in clean energy, which would include apprenticeships in the sector. That money would be split between the Governor’s Energy Office and the state Department of Labor.
Outside of the Maine Jobs and Recovery Plan spending, $70 million is also available to help Mainers pay heating and electric bills through MaineHousing’s home energy assistance program and community action programs like Penquis, which has covered Penobscot and Piscataquis county tenants’ rent debt during the pandemic, said Kara Hay, Penquis’ chief executive.
MaineHousing has granted funds to regional organizations like Penquis to help cover heating system repairs and heat pump installations, said executive director Dan Brennan.
“There are plenty of funds available, so we encourage those who are eligible to apply,” he said.