A dual electric vehicle charging station has been installed in a city parking lot off Central Street in downtown Hallowell. The cost to install the station was well over $10,000, but was reimbursed by a state program that helps municipalities meet Maine’s goals to reduce carbon emissions and transition to clean energy. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

HALLOWELL — Communities in Kennebec and Sagadahoc counties, much like the rest of Maine, have been looking to undertake projects to reduce reliance on fossil fuels and grow more sustainable in the face of climate change. Money is often a big challenge for small towns and cities, but a state grant program is making it easier.

The Community Resilience Partnership was started by the Maine Climate Council in December 2020 to help towns by providing technical and planning assistance and up to $50,000 to fund projects that align with the state’s climate goals to reduce carbon emissions and transition to clean energy. The funding comes from the state budget and is marked to assist Maine in reaching its climate goals listed in the state’s 2020 plan, “Maine Won’t Wait.”

A new dual electric vehicle charging station came online earlier this year in Hallowell. The cost to install the station was well over $10,000, but the entire price was reimbursed using state funding, said Town Manager Gary Lamb. Hallowell recently received another $50,000 to install heat pumps in the City Hall auditorium.

“We have heat pumps throughout the rest of City Hall now, but the auditorium is enormous with 20-foot-tall ceilings, and thus very expensive to heat and without air conditioning,” said Lamb, adding that the city will soon issue a request for proposals to get bids for this heat pump project and apply for more funding for other projects. “The city needs to do something in the way of armoring the river’s edge so that Front Street does not erode into the river over the next decade or two. Such grant funds could first pay for considerable engineering, and Army Corps and DEP permitting and planning processes.”

Heat pumps are seen Wednesday on the north side of Hallowell City Hall. The city recently received $50,000 from Maine’s Community Resilience Partnership to install heat pumps in the building’s auditorium. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

To apply for the grant, the Climate Council requires a town or city to enroll with the Community Resilience Partnership — a simple process. All that is needed is an official action by the governing body, either of their own accord or at the behest of the residents. The Hallowell City Council voted unanimously to enroll in 2022.

The low barrier for enrolling is intentional to encourage more communities to take the initiative, said Anthony Ronzio, deputy director at the Governor’s Office of Policy Innovation and the Future.


“We had initially set a goal of 100 communities joining in the first year,” said Ronzio. “We are now at 174 communities. So, the partnership is growing strongly.”

Hallowell is one of two communities in Kennebec County to have received grant funding through the program. Vassalboro is the other. At the request of the residents last year, Vassalboro’s Conservation Commission conducted an assessment to identify past climate actions and what else could be done. The officials recommended the town enroll in the partnership program. Town Manager Aaron Miller oversaw the enrollment earlier this year and secured approximately $34,000 to install heat pumps in the town hall, the fire department building and the public works garage. Miller had previously overseen a similar $43,000 installation of heat pumps as the town administrator in Livermore.

“It’s a win-win if you ask me,” said Miller. “Many communities are looking to take similar action, and there are many similar grants out there. We did it because it was simply the right thing to do.”

In nearby Sagadahoc County, numerous towns, including Topsham, Arrowsic, Bath, Brunswick and Bowdoinham, have received funding for similar projects.

Bowdoinham recently finished installing LED lights in the town office and along certain streets. This was a result of the $37,991 funding it received last year.

“Without the grant funding, this wouldn’t have happened. It was just too expensive for us to carry out,” said Town Manager Nicole Briand.


The town is also an example of how the funding can offset a large-scale project. Bowdoinham is planning to reconstruct its entire shoreline across Cathance River — a project expected to cost around $250,000, according to preliminary predictions. The resilience partnership has provided $50,000 to the town to help offset the steep cost.

Bowdoinham is planning a $250,000 project to stabilize the shoreline of the Cathance River. This area, near the River Road bridge, would be stabilized with a vegetated retaining wall. Maine’s Community Resilience Partnership has provided $50,000 to the town to help offset the cost of the project. Courtesy of the town of Bowdoinham

The project aims to stabilize the shoreline by improving stormwater treatment, removing historic fill and reestablishing natural vegetative habitats. The design process is complete, and work is expected to begin in 2024.

“The funding will make a difference. It’s a bigger project that it is going to help to build. We are excited,” said Briand.

These specks of projects spread across central Maine are part of a larger trend that has helped Maine stay on course to meet its climate goals. A recent progress update showed how the state has already met its goal of installing 100,000 heat pumps — putting in at least 115,492 pumps since 2019. It is now working toward a new goal of 275,000 by 2027.

“Every state and town is affected by climate change in their way, but we have adopted a posture to take steps to counteract it,” said Ronzio. “You can see there is a strong momentum to take these steps. When Mainers are presented with a viable option, they see the benefit of it.”

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