Maine Trust Directs Funds to Weatherization

October 08, 2008

Maine's Energy and Carbon Savings Trust has made an emergency ruling to direct $750,000 toward energy efficiency improvements for low-income residents. The move is aimed at mitigating high energy prices that are expected this winter. The funds came from the first quarterly auction of pollution credits under the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).

"When we enacted RGGI, our goal was to combat the emissions of greenhouse gases and to fund conservation efforts," Governor John Baldacci said. "High energy prices this winter are a real threat to working families and to our economy. By putting these resources to work, we can help families stay safe and secure in their homes and reduce our dependency on foreign oil."

RGGI is a cooperative effort by 10 Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states to limit greenhouse gas emissions. The member states are capping carbon dioxide emissions from the power sector and requiring a 10 percent reduction of those emissions by 2018.

In Maine, there are six power plants that fall within the RGGI program. Each plant has one allowance for every pound of carbon dioxide emitted. All plants participating in RGGI may purchase or trade allowances. They may also reduce emissions through efficiency measures or by purchasing carbon emission offsets. The allowances are sold at quarterly auctions; Maine's share of the auction proceeds go to the Energy and Carbon Savings Trust. The first auction held in September generated $2.6 million.

Under Maine's RGGI law, the first $5 of every allowance sold must be dedicated to efficiency measures chosen by the trustees. Any amount above the $5 threshold will be returned to electricity consumers in the form of electricity bill rebates.

The law also requires the trustees to spend 85 percent of the efficiency funds on measures that reduce electricity use through the year 2011. The remaining 15 percent may be used for measures that reduce consumption of fossil fuels.

The trust is working on adopting permanent rules that will govern disbursement of the proceeds remaining from the September auction and future auctions. Once those rules are in place, the trust will fund a variety of energy conservation measures that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions among the residential, small business, commercial, and industrial sectors.

For more information, see the governor's October 7 press release and the RGGI Web site .

To read more about renewable energy and energy efficiency projects in Maine, see: