Registrations of electric vehicles, availability of public EV chargers, and installations of high-efficiency heat pumps all hit record levels in Maine in 2021
Orono, MAINE – To mark the one-year anniversary of Maine’s four-year climate plan, Maine Won’t Wait, Governor Janet Mills today unveiled two new initiatives to empower Maine communities to better protect themselves and their residents from the impacts of climate change.
The Governor today unveiled the Community Resilience Partnership, a $4.75 million program through the Governor’s Office of Policy Innovation and the Future that will provide grants and technical assistance to municipal and tribal governments to start or enhance their local climate action plans, and undertake community projects to curb carbon emissions, transition to clean energy, and become more resilient to the effects of climate change. The Partnership will open to community enrollment in January.
The Governor also announced the creation of the Maine Infrastructure Adaptation Fund, a $20 million program through the Maine Department of Transportation that will provide grants to municipalities, tribal governments, and others to improve stormwater, drinking water, and wastewater infrastructure from flooding, rising sea levels, and extreme weather. MaineDOT expects to accept grant applications from communities in Spring 2022.
The new initiatives are an effort to support towns and cities across Maine as they launch local efforts to address climate change in their communities, following priorities laid out in the state’s climate plan. The Governor made her announcement today in Orono, in recognition of the regional climate planning partnership formed this year by the town of Orono, the City of Bangor, the University of Maine, and Husson University.
Both of the Governor’s new initiatives reflect leading recommendations of Maine Won’t Wait and represent another milestone and the one-year anniversary of the state’s four-year climate action plan announced by the Maine Climate Council on December 1, 2020.
“In Maine, our lands and waters are our way of life – where we earn our livelihoods, raise our families, and find fulfillment and peace. Indeed, we are inextricably tied to this place we love and call home. But the climate crisis – a code red for humanity – is disrupting our cherished way of life, threatening our economy, and endangering our future,” said Governor Janet Mills. “With the very future of our state and its people at stake, Maine is not waiting to act. After years of delay, we are now making unprecedented strides to embrace clean energy, reduce carbon emissions, strengthen our economy, and partner with communities to fight, at every level, the greatest danger of our time. With our climate action plan as our guide, we will combat this crisis and protect our people and their communities from its harmful impacts. We owe no less to future generations so that they may live in a Maine that is as beautiful and bountiful as it is today.”
“We’re proud of the extraordinary progress Maine has achieved toward our climate goals over the past year, asMaine Won’t Wait has become a blueprint for climate action for Maine people, businesses and communities who recognize the urgency of the fight against climate change,” said Maine Climate Council co-chairs Hannah Pingree, Director of the Governor’s Office of Policy Innovation and the Future, and Melanie Loyzim, Commissioner of the Maine Department of Environmental Protection. “With climate change now called a code red for humanity, we must continue to act with urgency to protect our state and make the most of this historic moment in which we have the methods and means to make a difference.”
“Building community resiliency to climate change requires bold action, strong partnerships, and investment in financial and technical assistance that municipalities need to implement solutions," said James Gardner, the Town of Manager of Easton and President of the Maine Municipal Association. "Maine Won't Waitoffers us a blueprint for not only working together but making meaningful change. I thank Governor Mills for taking the time necessary to build partnerships with municipal leaders across Maine, who are eager to address the negative impacts of climate change.”
“The Maine Infrastructure Adaptation Fund will help us make strategic investments in projects designed to address climate effects on critical infrastructure,” said Bruce Van Note, Commissioner of the Maine Department of Transportation. “Our goal is to work in partnership with local communities and tribes to get this money where it’s needed as quickly and efficiently as possible. These timely investments will support public safety, protect our natural resources, and enhance our quality of life.”
The Governor today also celebrated a year of progress by Maine people in the fight against climate change, noting that so far in 2021, Maine has seen a record number of electric vehicle registrations (5,677) and sales rebates (1,220), public EV charging stations (246), and installations of high-efficiency heat pumps for heating and cooling (more than 28,000 in one year). All of these measures reduce Maine’s reliance on expensive and harmful fossil fuels and emissions from the state’s two leading sources of greenhouse gas emissions: transportation and buildings.
“Last year the Efficiency Maine programs saw record participation in heat pumps, EVs and EV chargers, which helps Maine’s climate goals and means more homes and businesses will enjoy lower energy bills,” said Michael Stoddard, Executive Director of Efficiency Maine. “We are especially grateful to the hundreds of small businesses, and their growing workforce, who worked so hard to market and install these new technologies during challenging times, and we look forward to helping even more Maine people make essential efficiency investments into the future.”
Further, Maine is on track to reach a 2030 goal of using 80 percent renewable energy, one of the most aggressive targets in the country, and an important measure to reduce emissions and dependence on imported fossil fuels, the increasing costs of which are due to pandemic-caused volatility in global energy markets.
The Governor’s Office of Policy Innovation and the Future today also launched a new website, mainewontwait.org, to raise awareness about Maine’s climate plan, inform Maine people, communities, and businesses about the effects of climate change on Maine, and determine ways to take climate action recommended by the plan.
Since taking office in 2019, Governor Mills has made addressing climate change in Maine by reducing carbon emissions and transitioning to renewable energy a priority. She has pledged Maine will be carbon-neutral by 2045, and with the bipartisan support of the Legislature, the state has enacted among the nation’s most ambitious renewable energy and emissions reduction targets for Maine.
Maine has committed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 45 percent by 2030 and 80 percent by 2050, compared to levels recorded in 1990. The Maine Department of Environmental Protection is preparing the next biennial greenhouse gas emissions inventory release in early 2022, which will include both gross and net emissions estimates for the first time.
Governor Mills has committed to more than doubling Maine’s clean energy jobs to 30,000 by 2030. She introduced and signed into law 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 she made Maine one of the first states to adopt battery storage targets for renewable energy.
“Our collective work to reduce pollution and accelerate the transition to a clean energy economy is paying dividends today and for future generations,” said Lisa Pohlmann, CEO of the Natural Resources Council of Maine. “Using the blueprint provided by the Climate Action Plan, Maine people, towns, and businesses have shown they won’t wait to take climate action. Through her bold climate leadership, Governor Mills is providing the impetus for meaningful, sustained progress toward our climate goals.”
"We're proud of how strongly the state is moving to respond to climate change, the single biggest threat to Maine's wildlife and habitat,” said Andy Beahm, Executive Director of Maine Audubon. “Our iconic species are counting on us to act, and, with strong leadership from the Mills Administration, Maine's legislature, our municipalities, and our people are rising to meet the challenges before us."
“One year into implementing Maine Won’t Wait, it is clear that Maine is on the right path to meet the promise of our Climate Action Plan to address the climate crisis at the scale that science and justice demand,” said Kathleen Meil, Director of Policy & Partnerships at Maine Conservation Voters. “Progress toward safeguarding Maine’s climate future would not be possible without Governor Mills’ unwavering commitment to tackling this crisis. Maine is a climate action leader because of our state’s bold efforts to plan for climate impacts and take action to protect Maine people and our economy. We look forward to continuing the vital work of implementation over the next several years alongside Maine's dedicated climate community.”
"Investing in the resilience of Maine's natural and human communities is urgently needed," said Kate Dempsey, State Director of The Nature Conservancy in Maine and a member of the Maine Climate Council. "Coupled with emissions reductions, this investment will help Maine's communities face climate change and build a brighter future for people and nature alike. This is an example for the nation and the world of which all Mainers can be proud."
Governor Mills has also made historic investments in climate priorities thanks to Maine’s strong economic recovery and the Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan, the governor’s plan for allocating nearly $1 billion in American Rescue Plan funding to Maine.
Through the biennial budget and Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan, Governor Mills has invested in climate priorities, including:
- $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 clean energy 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 Maine’s fight against climate change by maximizing carbon storage, supporting working waterfronts, farms, and forests, and ensuring valuable ecosystems remain in place for future generations.
Recently, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act committed an estimated more than $2.4 billion to Maine, including significant funds for climate plan priorities such as EV charging infrastructure, home weatherization, public transit, and energy efficiency programs.
In addition, the new Federal law will also make billions more in competitive funds available to the states for electrifying school bus fleets, modernizing electrical grids, and more.
Since taking office, Governor Mills has enacted legislation to support solar energy in Maine, which has resulted in 325 megawatts of solar power installed in the state through October 2021, a more than four-fold increase from 70 megawatts installed in Maine in 2019, and to responsibly advance Maine’s opportunity for abundant renewable energy and significant economic development from offshore wind.
Maine Won’t Wait was the product of an unprecedented public process, featuring contributions from more than 200 people serving on the Maine Climate Council, its six expert working groups, and scientific and technical subcommittee and equity subcommittee.
Its strategies reflect the input from thousands of other Maine people and stakeholders that produced bold, actionable strategies to 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.