Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
Efficiency Maine Trust was created to:
- Consolidate under one roof the funds for Maine's consumer efficiency programs for all fuel types - electric, natural gas, and heating oil - together with consumer alternative energy programs;
- Integrate delivery of electric and thermal efficiency measures;
- Acquire energy resources (efficiency and alternative energy) that cost less than traditional energy supply to help individuals and businesses meet their energy needs at the lowest cost; and,
- Help to transform the energy market in Maine so that energy efficient products, alternative energy equipment, and related energy services are more accessible and affordable to end-use customers.
The Legislature directed the MPUC to review and subsequently approve or deny the Efficiency Maine Trust's Triennial Plans. A significant portion of the Trust's funds derived from Maine's electricity customers, through the System Benefit Charge (SBC) and the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) and were deployed to help lower electricity costs.
All electric utility customers-both competitive suppliers and publicly-owned companies-are eligible to receive services through the statewide programs administered by Efficiency Maine Trust. All utilities contribute funding to the programs via charges on customer bills. The Efficiency Maine Trust Annual Report contains updated energy savings data and lifetime avoided energy costs from each of the programs administered by Efficiency Maine in FY11. The report and appendices can be found at http://www.efficiencymaine.com/documents-services/reports#em.
The 10- and 20-year energy savings targets established by statute are far-reaching and were incorporated into the strategy and budgets of the Triennial Plan. Among others, the targets include:
- Capturing all cost-effective energy efficiency resources available for electric and natural gas utility ratepayers;
- Achieving electricity and natural gas savings of 30 percent within a decade;
- Achieving heating oil savings of 20 percent in the same timeframe; and
- Weatherizing 100 percent of homes and 50 percent of businesses by 2030.
Maine does not impose state-based appliance efficiency standards. The U.S. Department of Energy sets uniform federal standards for many household appliances.
Effective December 1, 2010, the State of Maine adopted the statewide Maine Uniform Building and Energy Code (MUBEC) which consists of four International Code Council (ICC) codes and four standards. As of 9/28/2011, municipalities over 4,000 in population were required to enforce the new code if they had a building code in place by August 2008. Only towns with more than 4,000 residents are required to enforce the 2009 IECC. A training and certification program was launched simultaneously with the building energy code changes. All code officers are required to be certified and training is provided free of charge. Builders, architects and others are not required to be certified, but are encouraged to attend the training on a fee basis.
Efficiency Maine offers two rebate programs, which are funded by a utility system benefits charge, proceeds from RGGI auctions, federal funds for the State Energy Program, and other sources. Click the links below to DSIRE for more detail.
Efficiency Maine - Business (Non-Residential) Program or Efficiency Maine.
The Triennial Plan proposed to achieve energy efficiency goals by implementing programs organized in three basic categories: (1) programs for business customers; (2) programs for residential customers; (3) crosscutting programs.
A Maine PACE loan is a loan taken by a property owner to finance the cost of making a qualified whole house energy upgrade with eligible energy savings improvements to the property. What makes a Maine PACE loan different from other loans is that it stays with the property. If a homeowner sells his or her home before the loan is paid off, the loan can either be paid off at the time of sale or can be transferred with the property to become the responsibility of the new owner.
A PowerSaver loan is a loan taken by a property owner to finance the cost of making a qualified whole house energy upgrade with eligible energy savings improvements to a single-family detached dwelling. PowerSaver Loans are available statewide, provided homeowners meet certain loan criteria. An eligible energy saving improvement is a measure to improve the energy efficiency of a home. Common examples include insulation, air sealing (foam and caulk), heating system upgrades, efficient hot water heaters, and better controls and thermostats for furnaces and boilers. Customers can borrow up to $25,000 with a PowerSaver Loan, and/or up to $15,000 with a Maine PACE Loan, provided they meet the program eligibility criteria. The minimum energy savings is at least 25%.
Businesses are not eligible for Efficiency Maine's home energy loans, except for residential building owners who are seeking to conduct energy upgrades in residential buildings of between 1-4 units each. Efficiency Maine currently offers low-interest loans of up to $35,000 at 1% APR for small businesses. The interest rate for both Maine PACE and PowerSaver loans is currently 4.99% fixed APR with no loan origination, servicing, closing, or pre-payment fees of any kind.
Maine's Renewable Resource Portfolio Requirement require each competitive electricity provider, including standard offer providers, to supply at least 30% of their total retail electric sales in Maine using electricity generated by eligible renewables and certain energy-efficiency resources. To qualify, electricity must be generated by a facility no greater than 100 megawatts (MW) in capacity that uses fuel cells, tidal power, solar arrays and installations, wind power, geothermal power, hydropower, biomass power or generators fueled by municipal solid waste in conjunction with recycling. Electricity generated by efficient combined heat and power (CHP) facilities and other systems that qualify as "small power production facilities" under the federal Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (PURPA) also are eligible. The PUC has since designated this 30% standard the "Class II" standard.
In June 2006, Maine enacted legislation (L.D. 2041) creating a renewable portfolio goal to increase new renewable-energy capacity by 10% by 2017. Eligible new renewables include those placed into service after September 1, 2005. Unlike the Class II standard, municipal solid waste facilities and CHP systems are not eligible under the new renewables goal, and hydropower facilities must meet all state and federal fish passage requirements. New wind-power installations may exceed 100 MW in capacity.
Public Law 403 of 2007 converted the 2006 goal into a mandatory standard, which the PUC has since designated the "Class I" standard. The schedule for the Class I standard is as follows:
- 1% for the period from 1/1/2008 to 12/31/2008
- 2% for the period from 1/1/2009 to 12/31/2009
- 3% for the period from 1/1/2010 to 12/31/2010
- 4% for the period from 1/1/2011 to 12/31/2011
- 5% for the period from 1/1/2012 to 12/31/2012
- 6% for the period from 1/1/2013 to 12/31/2013
- 7% for the period from 1/1/2014 to 12/31/2014
- 8% for the period from 1/1/2015 to 12/31/2015
- 9% for the period from 1/1/2016 to 12/31/2016
- 10% for the period from 1/1/2017 to 12/31/2017, and for each year thereafter
The PUC has approved the use of NEPOOL Generation Information System (GIS) certificates (which are similar to renewable-energy credits, or RECs) to satisfy the portfolio requirement. GIS certificates are awarded based on the number of kilowatt-hours (kWh) of eligible electricity generated. GIS certificates used to meet the Class I standard may not also be used to satisfy the Class II standard. Legislation enacted in June 2009 (L.D. 1075) provides a 1.5 credit multiplier for eligible community-based renewable energy projects (see the Community-Based Renewable Energy Production Incentive for more information).
The PUC sets an alternative compliance payment (ACP) that utilities may pay instead of satisfying the standard by procuring GIS certificates. The PUC may review the Class I standard to determine if progress has been sufficient. The PUC may suspend scheduled increases in the Class I standard under certain circumstances.
In addition to the above Maine Renewables Portfolio Standard, there are three goals for wind-energy development in Maine: (1) at least 2,000 MW of installed capacity by 2015; (2) at least 3,000 MW of installed capacity by 2020, of which there is a potential to produce 300 MW from facilities located in coastal waters or offshore; and (3) At least 8,000 MW of installed capacity by 2030, of which 5,000 MW should be from facilities in coastal waters or offshore.