On Earth Day, Governor Mills Announces $2.5 Million for 75 Maine Communities to Fight Climate Change

Grants from Community Resilience Partnership will support local climate action, clean energy and energy efficiency projects, and strengthen regional cooperation in support of the State’s climate action plan, Maine Won’t Wait

Governor Janet Mills announced today that her Administration has awarded a total of $2.5 million in grant funding to 75 communities across Maine to help them fight climate change.

The grants come from the Community Resilience Partnership, a program of the Governor’s Office of Policy Innovation and the Future to help Maine communities with local climate action plans to become more resilient against climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Of the awards, 29 towns and cities will receive direct funding for local projects. Grants to 13 planning, economic development and community organizations across Maine will support an additional 46 towns and tribal governments in starting or advancing local and regional climate resilience plans in the months ahead.

Announced by Governor Mills last December, the Community Resilience Partnership was recommended by Maine Climate Council’s four-year plan for state climate action, Maine Won’t Wait. The initiatives by communities funded by this program support climate priorities laid out in Maine Won’t Wait.

“Cities and towns across Maine recognize the serious threat that climate change poses to their people and their communities, and they are stepping up to take action to protect them,” said Governor Janet Mills. “My Administration is proud to partner with municipalities to fight climate change and to preserve the beauty and character of our communities for generations to come. I thank our local leaders for their work and want them to know that they have a partner in my Administration.”

“The Community Resilience Partnership grants announced today are an example of placing investment where your policies goals reside. Municipal leaders understood from day one that Governor Mills was serious about advancing policies to address the adverse impacts of climate change and that partnerships, rather than mandates, would be put into place to address mutually supported goals,” said Catherine Conlow, Executive Director of the Maine Municipal Association. “True to her word and commitment, 29 municipalities will receive grants to make their communities more resilient to extreme weather events, as well as assist local efforts to reduce energy costs. An additional 46 communities will benefit from climate plans being developed on a regional level. We commend the Governor and her staff, as well as municipal officials, for taking the lead on protecting our most valued natural resources.”

“Maine’s climate action plan, Maine Won’t Wait, calls for partnering with communities to support efforts to increase resiliency to the impacts of climate change, such as increasing storm events, extreme temperatures, and rising sea levels,” said Hannah Pingree, Director of the Governor’s Office of Policy Innovation and the Future and co-chair of the Maine Climate Council. “These Community Resilience Partnership grants will support local and regional climate planning and more importantly, actions for Maine communities in every county, and further underscore why our state is seen as a leader in climate action.”

“These investments in municipalities across Maine will advance clean energy and energy efficiency, reducing our overall reliance on fossil fuels and increasing the resilience of our communities against climate change and volatile global energy markets,” said Dan Burgess, Director of the Governor’s Energy Office. “These grants will help Maine communities unlock future benefits, reduce costs for taxpayers, and help protect our environment.”

The Maine communities and organizations receiving Community Resilience Partnership grants span all 16 counties and represent a broad cross-section of projects, which include creating community climate plans, protecting historic downtowns from rising sea levels, addressing public health risks from rising temperatures, and supporting clean energy investments like electric vehicle charging and solar power.

Examples of projects include:

In Rockland, city leadership plans to use its $50,000 grant award to further critical resilience investments in its downtown waterfront, including its public landing, recreational areas and working waterfronts.

“This grant will help the City of Rockland develop a more resilient design for the piers and seawall on Rockland’s downtown waterfront. These facilities are vulnerable to increasing storm surges, and the Community Resilience Partnership grant will help us develop the engineering detail needed to apply for federal funds to redevelop our marine infrastructure,” said Julie Hashem, Community Development Director for Rockland. “We couldn’t take on large projects like this without help from grants, and we are grateful to the Mills Administration for creating a program to help communities like ours address resilience needs.”

In Bangor, the city will utilize its $50,000 grant award to support the installation of public electric vehicle chargers, including one at the Bangor Public Library, and to conduct resilience planning for its waterfront along the Penobscot River.

“Bangor is poised to take a leadership role on climate action for our part of the state,” said Richard Fournier, Chair of the Bangor City Council. “This critical funding allows us to hit the ground running and helps move us toward our goals in line with the state's climate action plan, Maine Won't Wait, thereby bringing a local focus to our community.”

The town of Limestone intends to use its $50,000 grant award to partner with the Maine School of Science and Mathematics to help purchase two existing solar arrays at the Loring Commerce Centre, to reduce their energy bills and carbon emissions while creating new research and academic opportunities for students.

“The Community Resilience Partnership grant demonstrates Maine's proactive leadership towards a transition to renewable energy and provides essential support for local projects,” said Chuck Kelley, Chair of the Limestone Solar Committee. “The volunteers of the Limestone Solar Committee appreciate the opportunity to be a member of the partnership and these grant funds will help our community achieve strategic actions that were identified through the Maine Won't Wait climate plan.”

“This Community Resilience Partnership grant helps a small town and a small school take charge of their energy future. As both recent geopolitics and local rates have shown, energy security is key in planning for a sustainable future,” said Sam Critchlow, Executive Director of the Maine School of Science and Mathematics in Limestone. “As a school leader, I’m eager to take charge of our own energy needs. As an educator, I’m excited by opportunity to involve our students, the next generation of climate leaders, in planning for a sustainable future.”

In Auburn, the Androscoggin County Valley of Governments will use its award to help four towns – Jay, Carthage, Greenwood and Chesterville – develop climate planning priorities, while in Saco, the Southern Maine Planning and Development Commission will use its award to further its successful regional climate planning work.

“AVCOG serves some of the state’s most vulnerable populations, and with 72% of the Maine’s communities lacking planning staff, we applaud the Maine Won’t Wait climate action plan for identifying our work as critical in ensuring our communities are resilient,” said Amy Landry, Executive Director of the Androscoggin Valley Council of Governments. “State support for local planning and projects to address the ever-increasing risks to our communities from climate change, is a regional priority that we are proud to support. Thank you to the State of Maine for its leadership on climate action.”

“Many southern Maine communities acknowledge the pressing need for climate planning and action, but are limited by gaps in capacity, expertise, and resources,” said Paul Schumacher, Executive Director of the Southern Maine Planning and Development Commission. “The resources provided by the Community Resilience Partnership will help SMPDC enhance technical assistance, coordination, and support for climate resilience to our communities, and expand our existing sustainability and resilience work to serve more even municipalities, particularly those with lower capacity, fewer resources, and less experience with tackling resilience issues.”

A full list of grant awards and projects is available here. A second round of Community Resilience Partnership grants will be awarded later this year. The goal of the program is to enroll a minimum of 100 Maine communities within its first year, either individually or through regional coalitions developed by coordinators funded by the program.

In addition to the grants, Governor Mills today announced the opening of the Maine Infrastructure Adaptation Fund, a $20 million program of the Maine Department of Transportation to offer grants to communities to improve storm water, drinking water, and wastewater infrastructure from climate change effects such as flooding, rising sea levels, and extreme weather.

The infrastructure fund, an initiative of the Governor’s Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan that was recommended by Maine Won’t Wait, will open for applications on Monday, April 25.

Since taking office in 2019, Governor Mills has prioritized action against climate change in Maine through reducing carbon emissions, transitioning to renewable energy, and making Maine communities more resilient to climate effects.

With bipartisan support of the Legislature, the state has enacted for Maine among the nation’s most ambitious targets for transitioning to renewable energy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In 2019, she pledged Maine will become carbon-neutral by 2045, a commitment which she signed into law this year.

Maine has committed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 45 percent by 2030 and 80 percent by 2050, compared to levels recorded in 1990. She introduced and signed legislation to ban hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), a powerful greenhouse gas used in refrigeration and other products. She put sea level rise projections and appliance efficiency standards into law and made Maine one of the first states to adopt battery storage targets for renewable energy.

Governor Mills has committed to more than doubling Maine’s clean energy jobs to 30,000 by 2030 and made historic investments in climate priorities through her biennial budget and the Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan.

The Jobs Plan is her plan, approved by the Legislature, to invest nearly $1 billion in Federal American Rescue Plan funds to improve the lives of Maine people and families, help businesses, create good-paying jobs, and build an economy poised for future prosperity.

Significant climate investments from the budget and Jobs Plan include:

  • $50 million for energy efficiency programs, such as residential weatherization and efficiency upgrades for schools, towns, non-profits, and businesses.
  • $50 million for affordable housing, which includes assistance for communities, developers, and builders to encourage construction or production of affordable, energy efficient housing units close to service and employment centers and to reduce commuting time and transportation costs.
  • $8 million to advancing partnerships and initiatives to grow workforce and innovation in Maine’s clean energy sector.
  • $8 million to expand municipal and public electric vehicle charging.
  • $40 million for land conservation, which contributes to the fight against climate change by maximizing carbon storage, supporting working waterfronts, farms, and forests, and protecting valuable ecosystems for future generations.

Maine Won’t Wait was the product of an unprecedented public process, led by the Maine Climate Council, to produce bold, actionable strategies for addressing one of Maine’s most pressing long-term problems.

The plan was the culmination of significant steps the Mills Administration has taken to prepare for and mitigate the effects of climate change on Maine.

In addition to setting aggressive renewable energy and emissions reductions goals, Maine joined the United States Climate Alliance, a bipartisan coalition of Governors and states committed to climate action, removed a moratorium on clean wind power development, and withdrew Maine from a national offshore drilling coalition.