Through 2014, Maine has directed 98 percent of its invested CO2 allowance proceeds towards a combination of energy efficiency and direct bill assistance. The Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and Efficiency Maine are authorized to use a portion of proceeds to support program administration, as well as carbon offsets research. Efficiency Maine is the independent, third-party administrator for all programs in Maine that help to promote all-fuels energy efficiency for Maine residents and businesses. Over the lifetime of the investments, efficiency programs funded in Maine by RGGI proceeds are conserving over 135,000 MWh of electricity, and lowering participants’ energy bills by more than $62 million.
Energy efficiency programs funded by RGGI proceeds in 2014 included retail and residential programs which worked with lighting manufacturers, retailers and distributors to reduce the prices of energy-efficient lighting products statewide. Programs also included a business incentive program, as well as industrial and large commercial competitive bid programs that are helping Maine businesses sustain jobs and stay competitive.
Most Efficiency Maine programs are funded by a combination of system benefit charges, forward capacity market proceeds and RGGI proceeds. Maine’s statutory 10- and 20-year energy savings targets include:
Capturing all cost-effective energy efficiency resources available for electric and natural gas utility ratepayers.
Achieving electricity, natural gas and heating oil savings of 20 percent within a decade.
Substantial weatherization of all homes by 2030.
Program Highlight: The Home Energy Savings Program
Efficiency Maine’s Home Energy Savings Program (HESP) serves as the framework for market-based weatherization and heating system improvements achieved through a combination of rebates, financing, and customer education. HESP is designed to raise awareness about the benefits of home weatherization and to encourage Maine homeowners to make energy efficiency upgrades.
FY 2014 was a significant year for HESP. With its passage of the Omnibus Energy Bill in June 2013, the Maine State Legislature directed Efficiency Maine to invest 35% of Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) auction revenues in measures to reduce home heating demand. This change in the RGGI statute allowed Efficiency Maine to expand its funding for projects that save heating oil, Maine’s most common heating fuel, without relying on federal funds. More than 7 in 10 Maine households use fuel oil as their primary energy source for home heating – a higher share than in any other state. In 2014, HESP invested $3,870,000 of RGGI funds, approximately 99% of the Program's total budget.
FY 2014 also saw the expansion of loan product offerings through HESP to include new unsecured energy project financing. These smaller loans have continued to increase in popularity, as they require less paperwork and can be processed more quickly than the other loan products. By the end of FY 2014, unsecured loans accounted for 80% of the loans administered by Efficiency Maine. The average amount financed was approximately $8,200.
HESP provided more than 6,400 participants with rebates for energy saving measures in FY 2014, including more than 2,500 rebates for ductless heat pumps. The average HESP rebate of $839 incentivized an average total project cost of $4,936. Through these incentives, Efficiency Maine was able to facilitate more than $21 million in private energy efficiency investments. Overall, the measures incentivized through HESP in FY 2014 generated lifetime energy savings of 1,298,600 MMBtu, helping Mainers save roughly $47.5 million in lifetime energy costs. Given that RGGI funds constituted 99% of the budget for HESP in 2014, they were responsible for a proportionate share of these savings.