The Mills administration is launching a new, $15 million program designed to help public schools, municipalities and tribal governments improve energy efficiency of public buildings and reduce their costs.

The new initiative comes amid rising heating and electricity costs in Maine and across the country.

“Maine people, businesses and communities are too dependent on imported oil and gas from big fossil fuel companies, and nothing illustrates that more than the sky-high prices that we’re all now paying for them,” Gov. Janet Mills said in a statement.

The program, a partnership with Efficiency Maine, was announced Friday during the Maine Climate Council’s “Communities Leading on Climate” conference at the Augusta Civic Center.

The $15 million will come from the Maine Jobs and Recovery Plan, which relies on federal coronavirus pandemic relief funds.

The money will be used primarily to reduce heating fuel consumption by switching to high-performance heating systems, but it can also be used to switch to LED lighting and upgrade refrigeration equipment, according to a news release. 


Mills called the move a “win-win.” 

“This funding through my jobs plan can be used by schools and municipalities to cut their energy costs, transition away from fossil fuels, and become more energy efficient – a move that will also save taxpayers money in the long run,” she said. 

Michael Stoddard, executive director of Efficiency Maine, said in a statement that the fresh support could not have come at a better time. It will help public buildings “get off the roller-coaster” of oil and propane prices and reduce their carbon footprints, he said. 

The $15 million will be allocated in three phases. The first, $8 million for school efficiency projects, will launch Monday. The second, $4 million for municipal efficiency projects, begins in August. The final phase, $3 million for nonprofit residential facilities, will follow in the fall.

 Last month, Mills announced a similar, $4 million program to support energy-efficient upgrades for travel, tourism and hospitality businesses. 

In total, Efficiency Maine is receiving $50 million from Mills’ jobs plan for weatherization and energy efficiency in Maine homes, businesses and local government buildings, according to the release. 


The program builds on other recent actions by the administration to reduce costs as Mainers continue to grapple with increased energy prices. 

Starting this month, most Mainers are receiving $850 inflation relief checks from the state’s budget surplus. Additionally, a new law championed by state Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, offers small businesses up to $3,000 to offset electricity cost increases. 

Earlier this year, Mills announced a one-time, $90 electric bill credit and an $800 heating cost relief check for low-income Mainers. 

Not everyone is thrilled with the Democrat-led administration’s spending plans. 

Jason Savage, executive director of the Maine GOP, said in a statement that Mills’ climate policies, which he called “out of touch,” will only serve to raise energy costs. 

“Mills has lost sight of what Mainers are struggling with,” Savage said.

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