Maine Public Utilities Commission
Public Utilities Commission
242 State Street
Augusta, Maine 04333-0018
Website: http://www.maine.gov/mpuc/, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
CONTACT: Margie McLaughlin, 207.287.1365, email@example.com
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 20, 2004
Drafts Home and Office Building “Energy” Regulations
Seeks public comment and schedules public hearing
AUGUSTA, ME – The PUC today announced that it is seeking public comment on model building energy regulations that it is proposing for Maine. In accordance with a new state law, the Energy Code Act, the PUC’s draft energy standards establish efficiency and ventilation requirements for new residential buildings, as well as for many building additions, renovations and repairs. The draft regulations incorporate existing efficiency standards for commercial buildings. The purpose of the regulations is to improve the energy efficiency of Maine’s building stock.
The efficiency regulations address issues such as ceiling and wall insulation levels, basement insulation practices, and heating system efficiency. Ventilation standards address practices that influence indoor air quality. The proposed standards are similar to codes adopted in many other states. They must be approved by Maine’s Legislature before being adopted.
According to PUC Chairman Tom Welch: “Last winter reminded us just how cold it can be in Maine, and energy prices this winter may reach or even exceed last year's high levels. Energy codes can ensure that the energy we use is used efficiently, and that we spend less for the heat we need. At the direction of the Legislature, we are working to help Maine communities, builders and building owners improve the performance of their buildings. If adopted by municipalities, the code we propose today will cut Maine’s energy consumption, reduce our energy bills, safeguard our health and benefit our environment.”
When finally adopted, the standards will serve as a model code for any municipality that decides to adopt an energy code. Under the law, municipalities are not required to adopt energy codes, but each municipality that does so must adopt the model code. Energy codes previously adopted by towns are grandfathered.
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The benefit of a model rule is that it ensures greater consistency in communities across the state. This makes it easier for builders who work in multiple towns, and should help to ensure the availability and affordability of any efficiency products necessary to comply with the rule.
Adds Chairman Welch, “We want to improve the efficiency of Maine’s buildings, but we recognize that any investments required as part of this rule should make sense for Maine. For that reason, the rule balances energy efficiency, occupant health, and cost, and gives builders and owners some flexibility in how they meet these standards for individual projects.”
In response to the law, a major issue the PUC is considering in this rulemaking is whether the model code should include ventilation standards. These standards would cover fans and other mechanical ventilation to ensure healthy indoor air. As buildings have become “tighter,” mold and air quality have become problems, and many builders are already taking steps to become more familiar with ventilation solutions, so the time may be right to include ventilation standards in the model code.
Due to requirements in the Maine Manufactured Housing Act, the PUC anticipates that the model building energy code will not apply to modular or manufactured homes.
The Commission, in a separate proceeding, is investigating building energy code enforcement mechanisms and will report its findings to the Legislature in 2005.
Anyone interested in submitting comments on the proposed rule may do so in writing and/or at a public hearing. The Commission encourages the public to submit written comments by October 1, so they may be considered in advance of the public hearing on the proposed rule, scheduled for October 6, 2004 at 9:00 a.m. at the Commission’s offices at 242 State Street, Augusta. Final written comments will be accepted until October 27.
Comments on the rule may be submitted by mail, or electronically by going to the PUC website (www.maine.gov/mpuc) and following the electronic filing instructions. Information related to this rulemaking will be posted on the PUC website at www.maine.gov/mpuc/2004legislation/buildingcodes.htm.
For more information:
All PUC New Releases maybe found on our website at: http://www.maine.gov/mpuc/newsreleases2003.htm
To arrange an interview with Chairman Welch or Commissioners Diamond or Reishus, please contact Phillip Lindley at 207.287.1598 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Commission’s website may be accessed through the Maine School and Library Network at all public libraries in Maine.