Yarmouth could help lead state residential energy upgrade program

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YARMOUTH — With the help of the Maine Green Energy Alliance, Yarmouth could be one of a few Maine communities to participate in a residential energy upgrade program.

The Yarmouth Energy Savers committee has been working since 2007 to investigate and offer recommendations to reduce the use and consumption of energy and fuels for municipal facilities and residential homes. For the past six months, the group has been working to create a Climate Action Plan required by the town’s Comprehensive Plan and part of the Cool Climate initiative.

Marge Titcomb, chairwoman of the YES committee, said residential heating oil is the highest energy cost in town, and the No. 1 priority of the Climate Action Plan is to help residents lower their home heating costs. With the Property Assessed Clean Energy legislation passed in Apri1, Titcomb said these residential upgrades could become a reality to help residents lower their heating costs.

“PACE allows residents to take out loans to pay for energy upgrades,” Titcomb said. “These upgrades can include insulation, window or furnace replacements, or solar panel instillation. They are available for all income brackets.”

Yarmouth’s Town Council must pass a PACE funding ordinance that would allow residents to apply for energy loans, and Titcomb said the YES committee is expected to make a presentation to the council at a meeting on Thursday, Sept. 2.

“Yarmouth can be a leaders in defining how the program can work for other communities,” Titcomb said.

Tom Federle of the MGEA, a non-profit organization funded by a sub-grant of Efficiency Maine, said the organization will work with YES to dramatically increase the number of homes to receive energy improvements.

“There is a good and robust rebate program in place today,” Federle said. “This program will create a situation where it is in the homeowners best interest to participate.”

MGEA will work with YES to create an outreach program to help educate homeowners about energy saving options. Additionally, the organization will help homeowners understand the results of the energy audit, decide what improvements will be necessary, what contractors to use, and how to file rebates and tax credit funds.

As a Yarmouth resident who took advantage of the home energy improvement process, Federle said the money he spent will be fully recovered in two years. It cost $5,800 to make the improvements that would save him 30 percent on energy costs. He received a $2,500 rebate from Efficiency Maine, a $1,000 tax credit and will save $1,200 a year in energy costs.

“This is a powerful opportunity to take advantage of right now,” he said.

There is also an opportunity to save an additional $1,000 as a bonus rebate on energy saving work, Federle said. To qualify, residents must sign up by Aug. 31, have an energy audit by Sept. 30 and install a qualifying improvement by Dec. 31.

For more information visit MGEA online or call 513-1060.

Amy Anderson can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or aanderson@thefoecaster.net