MaineHousing will use Trust money to expand weatherization efforts

Money will help make more than 100 additional homes energy efficient

AUGUSTA, ME – January 20, 2009 – (RealEstateRama) — “I am very pleased the Energy and Carbon Savings Trust decided to award us $500,000 to expand our efforts to make homes of low-income Maine residents more energy efficient,” MaineHousing Director Dale McCormick said in a statement today. “This will save the homeowners money and reduce the state’s carbon footprint.”

MaineHousing will invest the $500,000 awarded by the Energy and Carbon Savings Trust in weatherizing additional Maine homes by adding it to the ongoing Governor’s Weatherization Program. The award will increase funding for the program from $1.5 million to $2 million and increase the number of homes weatherized from 300 to 425.

The Energy and Carbon Savings Trust was created to oversee and distribute money Maine is allocated from the auction of carbon allowances as a participant in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI, or “Reggie”). The first two RGGI auctions were in September and December.

Most (85%) of the RGGI money is to be used for electricity conservation efforts, but the Trust had $750,000 to distribute through a Request for Proposals process to programs that reduce the use of fossil fuels.

Weatherizing a home means making it more energy efficient through draft proofing and adding insulation. These measures typically reduce the homeowner’s energy use by 20% to 30%.

“Weatherizing Maine homes reduces fossil fuel consumption, which reduces carbon emissions. One of the main goals of RGGI is to reduce carbon emissions,” McCormick noted.

McCormick said that MaineHousing plans to finance weatherization of approximately 3,800 homes through three different weatherization programs.

In addition to the 425 homes in the Governor’s Weatherization Program, MaineHousing will be allocating $6.4 million in funding through the federal Department of Energy’s (DOE) Weatherization Program to weatherize 1,550 homes.

It also will be distributing $7 million through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), funded by the federal Department of Health and Human Services, to weatherize 1,900 homes. MaineHousing runs both the DOE and LIHEAP weatherization programs through regional Community Action Program agencies.

“These are important initiatives for Maine now, and for the future,” McCormick said. “We developing plans that enable us to capture the carbon emission savings that result from more energy efficient housing, and to sell those credits to raise additional funds for affordable housing.”

MaineHousing’s Carbon Market Project is creating a program to measure, monitor and sell avoided carbon emissions from weatherizing Maine homes. Selling avoided carbon emissions will generate a new funding source to expand energy efficiency programs that directly benefit Maine residents, improve housing, and reduce climate change.

“We are investing in energy efficiency,” said McCormick.

The various weatherization programs are only some of the measures MaineHousing has undertaken to help Maine people reduce energy use and save money.

It also has instituted energy efficient building standards for new rental housing it finances, is providing loans to rental housing properties that want to convert to solar power to heat domestic hot water, and is providing low-interest rate loans to homeowners who want to make their homes more energy efficient.

The mission of the Maine State Housing Authority is to assist Maine people to obtain and maintain decent, safe, affordable housing and services suitable to their unique housing needs. Visit our Web site at www.mainehousing.org.

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