A decade ago, Maine policymakers and stakeholders embarked on a new, more purposeful and comprehensive strategy to help address Maine’s biggest energy concerns, such as affordably heating our homes and businesses through long, cold winters, accelerating our transition to a new generation of high-efficiency energy products and putting Maine on a path to a sustainable energy future – economically and environmentally. To put that strategy in motion, the Efficiency Maine Trust was established on July 1, 2010, as an independent, not-for-profit, quasi-state agency upholding a fiduciary duty to advance the best interests of Maine’s energy consumers.

For 10 years now, the trust has administered a suite of programs under the brand “Efficiency Maine” to serve every customer group, business sector and community in the state. Its programs offer financial incentives for qualifying high-efficiency products, like LED lights, heat pumps, attic insulation, clothes washers, boilers, air compressors, ventilation systems, combined heat and power and more. With these resources, we are helping Maine consumers overcome barriers to efficiency upgrades. It has been a successful endeavor.

A decade of programs has resulted in installation of high-efficiency equipment that, over its lifetime, will lower costs for Maine energy consumers by $1.5 billion to $2 billion. This savings comes from reduced consumption of electricity, oil and natural gas associated with the upgrades of 7 million LED bulbs, thousands of Energy Star appliances, air sealing more than 15,000 homes, 3,500 loans for weatherization and heating systems, 17,500 projects at Maine businesses and municipalities and major investments at nearly all of Maine’s largest manufacturers, from Texas Instruments to BIW to the Madawaska Paper Mill.

Through economic ups and downs, Efficiency Maine programs have helped grow good jobs in the state. According to a 2019 report by E4 The Future, Maine has more than 8,600 jobs working in 1,580 businesses in the energy-efficiency supply chain. Electricians, plumbers, insulation and heating technicians, energy auditors, engineers and architects and sales staff at supply houses and retail stores, join the flourishing renewable-energy trade as part of Maine’s clean-energy economy. These jobs will play a critically important role as we transform the markets for products that consume energy in the years ahead.

The transformation in these markets, now in its early stages, will be on a massive scale. To sustain our economy and quality of life, we must aggressively shift to more efficient products that run on lower carbon energy. We can do it. We have already begun. With assistance from Efficiency Maine, homeowners and businesses have installed more than 45,000 high-performance heat pumps and 32,000 heat pump water heaters, making Maine a national leader on “beneficial electrification.” Without a dime of taxpayer funds, Efficiency Maine also recently launched grants to establish a network of electric vehicle charging stations across the state and rebates for electric vehicles that will define the future of transportation. To the benefit of Maine’s energy independence and resilience, these products will increasingly be powered by local, renewable-energy generation.

Efficiency Maine is well positioned to provide help during the transition ahead. We have been fortunate to have strong bipartisan support at the Legislature, careful oversight from the Maine Public Utilities Commission and thoughtful governance from our volunteer board of trustees. We have received feedback and advice from stakeholders making our programs stronger and our operations better. We have developed administrative capacity and processes, financing services, a robust website, a registry of vendors and a deeply committed staff. Together, these resources enable the trust to turn complex policies into successful programs.

July starts a new decade for Efficiency Maine. Amid the uncertainty of these times, one thing is sure: Maine’s economy and environment are inextricably bound to our use of energy. Ingenuity and entrepreneurship in the energy sector will bring us more efficient and cleaner technologies that we can use to light our buildings, heat our homes, power our factories and travel our roads. Making good choices among these technologies will help us avoid high energy costs, create jobs and cut carbon pollution. It has been, and will continue to be, our privilege at Efficiency Maine to serve the state’s energy consumers as we navigate together the transitions and opportunities that lie ahead.

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