Small businesses and farms looking to have an energy audit to determine where they can save energy and utility costs can check in with Southern Maine Planning and Development, which recently received a $100,000 grant to provide subsidized energy audits in southern Maine. Journal Tribune file photo

SACO — To help reduce energy use and costs in the region, Southern Maine Planning and Development Commission is creating an Energy Audit Program designed to help small businesses and farmers with energy efficiency upgrades.

The Saco-based agency will use a $100,000 grant to conduct 15 or more energy audits for rural small businesses and farmers in the 39 municipalities in York, southern Oxford and Cumberland counties served by SMPDC. The Rural Energy for America Program Energy Audits and Renewable Energy Development Grant was among several announced in Maine on Earth Day.

“SMPDC will provide heavily subsidized energy audits to small businesses and farmers in the SMPDC region, with the goal that businesses will implement energy efficiency upgrades that reduce energy consumption, utility costs, and fossil fuel emissions, ” said SMPDC’s sustainability coordinator Karina Graeter. “Overall, the program will raise awareness of energy efficiency in the entire region, supporting energy independence and resilience in Southern Maine

An energy audit is often the first step in making buildings more efficient. It provides a breakdown of how, where, and when electricity is used in the building, as well as the current electric costs and how they apply to the facility and its uses. It can also be tailored to specific energy concerns in the facility. It considers all aspects of a building’s energy use, including heating and cooling, lighting systems; other power systems like exhaust fans or hot water heating, and the building envelope and its resistance to air, water, heat, etc., among other factors.

SMPDC will work with the client and a local commercial energy audit firm to prepare an energy audit report, outlining ways to maximize long term savings, minimize energy consumption, recommend resources for financing, and estimate return on investment.

In Maine, USDA made grants of over $6 million for Rural Water and Renewable Energy Infrastructure, part of a $487 million investment nationwide.

Commercial or agricultural facilities interested in a subsidized energy audit may contact Graeter at: [email protected] or 207-571-7065.

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