Governor Mills announces plan for money to help Mainers get through winter

Mills announces more than $30M to help Mainers get through winter.
Mills announces more than $30M to help Mainers get through winter.(WABI)
Published: Nov. 4, 2021 at 3:53 PM EDT
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BREWER, Maine (WABI) - Winter is coming.

When it comes to heating your home this season, it’s not going to be cheap.

TV5 was in Brewer Thursday as Governor Mills announced an investment of tens of millions of dollars in federal dollars to help Mainers get through.

“The sad fact is that we are the most heating dependent, heating oil dependent state in the nation,” said Mills as she opened Thursday’s event.

As part of the Maine Jobs and Recovery Plan, Governor Mills announced more than 30-million dollars in federal money will be dedicated to cutting energy costs for Maine families this winter.

“We send more than four billion dollars out-of-state every year to fossil fuel companies just for heating oil,” said the Governor.

“The cheapest energy, it’s not solar, or wind, or natural gas, is the energy we don’t use,” said Penobscot Home Performance co-owner, Matt Damon. “We have long cold winters in some of the leakiest most poorly insulated housing stock in the whole country. Low to moderate income Mainers many of whom are elderly, carry a larger burden for these costs. Typically spending 16% of their income versus only 4% for other households.”

“Weatherization can save families as much as $700 every heating season,” said Mills.

The plan also includes money to reduce carbon emissions and strengthening the clean energy work force. That’s along with tens of millions of dollars available through LIHEAP.

“If you know anyone who is struggling, whether it’s you, your friends, your families, your neighbors, reach out and seek this funding,” said Penquis CEO Kara Hay. “It is here for you, we are here for you, and we want to help.”

“Only 20 to 25% of income eligible households actually reach out and apply for the heating assistance program,” added MaineHousing Director Dan Brennan. “That’s only a quarter of people who are eligible. So people in Maine, our folks are proud and they don’t want to ask for help. They think that, you know, their neighbor needs it more than I do. There’s plenty of money. We have a lot of money available. We’re not going to run out. Please apply.”

“This winter, we can all button down our homes, tighten our belts and fight climate change together.”

Below is the full release from the Mills Administration with information on how to take advantage.

Governor Janet Mills today unveiled a slate of initiatives from her Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan to help Maine people weatherize their homes, reduce their reliance on harmful fossil fuels, and cut their energy costs.

Governor Mills announced that her Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan will provide $25 million in federal funds to Efficiency Maine Trust, the independent agency charged with improving energy efficiency across the state, to help more Maine people weatherize their homes. Weatherization helps reduce reliance on expensive, carbon-emitting fossil fuels, saves money on annual heating and electricity bills, and supports Maine’s more than 1,500 local energy efficiency businesses.

To continue Maine’s progress in embracing clean energy, Governor Mills also unveiled a new Clean Energy Partnership backed by $5.5 million from the Maine Jobs and Recovery Plan to provide career training opportunities, like apprenticeships, that will equip Maine people with the skills to fill good-paying jobs in Maine’s growing clean energy sector.

The Governor’s announcement comes in the wake of a report from the U.S. Energy Information Agency (PDF) that estimated the costs for nearly all home heating methods will go up this winter for reasons related to the pandemic and the worldwide economy. Maine is the most heating oil dependent state in the country, with Maine people and businesses spending more than $4 billion every year to import fossil fuels.

Governor Mills made the announcement today at General Insulation in Brewer, a leading supplier of insulation and weatherization materials in Maine. She was joined at her announcement by Kara Hay, Chief Executive Officer of PenquisCAP; Michael Stoddard, Executive Director of Efficiency Maine; and Matt Damon, co-owner of Penobscot Home Performance of Brewer, an energy efficiency company.

“Right now, Maine is the most heating oil dependent state in the nation, something that our environment and Maine people pay the price for every time they go to turn up their thermostat. But it’s also something we can change,” said Governor Janet Mills. “Making homes and businesses more energy efficient through weatherization cuts down on our use of harmful fossil fuels, protects our environment, and saves people money. Through the Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan, we will expand incentives to help people weatherize their homes and keep more of their hard-earned money, and we will train more Maine people to work in our growing clean energy sector, creating new green jobs and strengthening our economy.”

“Efficiency Maine is ready to use these federal funds to help low- and moderate-income families improve the comfort of their homes by adding insulation, which is vital given the concerns about rising energy prices this winter. We intend to start our outreach next week in the Bangor area, and prioritize projects in communities where weatherization projects will do the most good for Maine people, as quickly as possible,” said Michael Stoddard, Executive Director of Efficiency Maine.

“I want to thank Governor Mills and the legislature for these important investments in weatherization and our workforce, which will not only help homeowners stay warm but will help small businesses like ours hire more local workers to complete energy retrofits and purchase more weatherization supplies from places like General Insulation,” said Matt Damon, co-owner of Penobscot Home Performance. “Weatherization may not be as visible as other infrastructure projects, but it can lead to lasting, ground-up improvements in environmental and economic resilience—and represent the types of future-looking steps Maine and the country needs to take to mitigate the effect of climate change, spur economic growth, and create a sustainable future.”

“Maine is making unprecedented investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency, and we must ensure we have the necessary skilled workforce to meet the growing demand,” said Dan Burgess, Director of the Governor’s Energy Office. “This funding will support the necessary training and pathways for Maine people to enter and thrive in the clean energy sector.”

In addition to the Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan investments, the Governor announced that approximately $70 million is available this winter to help Maine people pay their heating and electricity bills, weatherize their homes, or receive emergency fuel deliveries through MaineHousing and local community action agencies, like Penquis.

“Penquis welcomes this significant investment in the health, safety and wellbeing of our state’s residents. With the projected increase in heating costs, this funding could not have come at a better time. We urge individuals and families to learn more and apply for these critical programs,” said Kara Hay, Chief Executive Officer of Penquis. We look forward to helping eligible households access heating assistance, weatherization and heat pumps, and we are proud to be part of these efforts that increase financial savings, reduce our carbon footprint, and provide warmth and comfort for the people of Maine.”

“MaineHousing is as prepared for the upcoming heating season as we ever have been. Using supplemental funding from the American Rescue Plan, we have issued an additional Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) fuel assistance benefit to each of the more than 30,000 HEAP recipients from last year’s program,” said Dan Brennan, Director of MaineHousing. “In addition, we have allocated funds to our Community Action Agency partners for more home weatherization, central heating system repair and heat pump installations. There are plenty of funds available, so we encourage those who are eligible for HEAP to apply if they haven’t done so already.”

To help Maine people stay warm this winter and know where to find assistance if needed, the Governor’s Energy Office has also published an updated resource guide for winter heating, which is available online.

These important initiatives coincide with the U.N Global Climate Change Conference, otherwise known as COP 26, where world leaders are meeting to negotiate commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and avoid the catastrophic impacts of climate change, such as extreme weather, rising sea levels, and extended droughts – all of which Maine is confronting. Under Governor Mills, Maine has adopted strong targets to reduce emissions, including becoming carbon-neutral by 2045.

Details about the Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan initiatives:

Saving Maine Families Money on Heating and Electricity Bills: With an influx of $25 million from the Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan, Efficiency Maine Trust will have more robust financial resources to help more Maine people, including moderate to low-income homeowners and renters, weatherize their homes. Efficiency Maine Trust offers rebates that range from $600 to $9,600 for weatherization, which can be as simple as weatherstripping doors and windows or insulating attics and basements to prevent heat from escaping, all of which reduce the use of fossil fuels and save Maine people money. Further, with Efficiency Maine Trust providing rebates through local contractors, the Governor’s Jobs Plan supports Maine small businesses and strengthens local economies. This support from the Jobs Plan is estimated to weatherize nearly 3,500 homes. For more information on weatherization, visit

Training Maine People to Fill Good-Paying, Clean Energy Jobs: Supported by $4 million from the Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan, the Governor’s Energy Office will start a Clean Energy Workforce Partnership to prepare more Maine people for jobs in growing clean energy and energy efficiency fields, and achieve Governor Mills’ goal of 30,000 clean energy jobs in Maine by 2030. Energy efficiency companies, of which there are more than 1,500 in Maine with 99 percent having fewer than 100 employees, have long identified workforce scarcity as an obstacle for growth, which was exacerbated by the pandemic.

Starting early next year, the Partnership will convene state agencies, private-sector partners, Maine’s community colleges, the University of Maine system, labor organizations, municipalities, and others to develop programs and tools to grow the clean energy workforce in Maine. In alignment with the Partnership, the Maine Department of Labor will receive $1.5 million from the Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan to expand existing and develop new apprenticeship opportunities for in-demand clean energy fields, with an emphasis on increasing apprenticeships among under-represented communities.

In the coming weeks, the Mills Administration will continue to announce more Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan investments to address known, systemic challenges that have constrained Maine’s ability to thrive, with priority focus on expanding Maine’s workforce.The Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan is the Governor’s plan, approved by the Legislature, to invest nearly $1 billion in Federal American Rescue Plan funds to achieve three goals: immediate economic recovery from the pandemic; long-term economic growth for Maine; and infrastructure revitalization.

It draws heavily on recommendations from the Governor’s Economic Recovery Committee and the State’s 10-Year Economic Development Strategy, transforming them into real action to improve the lives of Maine people and strengthen the economy.

Since the legislation implementing the Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan took effect on October 18, 2021, Governor Mills has announced:

With more than $300 million in planned workforce investments through education and skills training programs, workforce housing, childcare, worker attraction, and business supports, the Jobs Plan aims to make a measurable impact on Maine’s workforce trends and build an economy poised for future growth.

Funding for the Jobs Plan is through the federal American Rescue Plan Act, which allocated $4.5 billion in stimulus funds to Maine earlier this year.

Coordination of the Jobs Plan is led by the Maine Department of Administrative and Financial Services and the Governor’s Office of Policy Innovation and the Future, through a new Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan Office.

This Office will oversee the transparent and accountable implementation of the Jobs Plan, including ensuring that proposed expenditures are permissible under U.S. Treasury eligibility guidance, the final version of which remains pending.

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