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May 16, 2019

NRCM blasts PUC’s approved three-year budget for energy efficiency projects

The Maine Public Utilities Commission unanimously approved $158.2 million in funding for energy efficiency initiatives for Maine residents and businesses, which will be administered by the Efficiency Maine Trust from July 1 through June 30, 2022.

But the Natural Resources Council of Maine sharply criticized the approved funding amount as inadequate, characterizing the PUC’s stance prior to the vote as a failure “to recognize the full value of modern, clean energy solutions like energy efficiency, and results in a further reduction in funding that residents could have used for energy efficiency projects.

“We reviewed the Efficiency Maine Trust plan carefully and evaluated the cost-effectiveness of all proposed measures” Commissioner R. Bruce Williamson said in a PUC news release. “The commission approved funding for all of the measures that it determined would likely be cost-effective over time. Because some of the measures that were included in the Efficiency Maine Trust plan were not cost-effective, those measures did not receive funding.”

PUC Commissioner Randall D. Davis said the efficiency measures do include programming for low income customers as well as commercial and industrial customers. “The industrial measures we reviewed will hopefully make that sector even more competitive in this global economy,” he said.

Here’s what the PUC’s approved plan includes:


  • Efficient heat pumps: $18 million
  • Air sealing and insulation: $4.6 million

Commercial and Industrial

  • Efficient heat pumps:  $1.2 million
  • Efficient boilers:  $2.8 million
  • Efficient drives and pumps:  $9.8 million
  • Custom measures (for customer-specific projects): $10.3 million
  • Efficient lighting (for all customer classes) $45.2 million

NRCM’s criticisms

In a statement issued before Wednesday’s decision on Efficiency’s Maine three-year plan, NRCM accused the PUC of “intentionally holding energy efficiency back, costing consumers millions in savings.”

“The PUC’s systematic bias against energy efficiency is hurting Maine people, stifling our economy, and undermining our ability to accelerate the transition to a lower-cost clean energy future,” said Dylan Voorhees, clean energy director at NRCM. “Time and time again the PUC’s actions are directly contradictory to clear laws and evidence —and the common-sense views of Maine people — that the cheapest source of energy is not wasting energy.”

By law, the Efficiency Maine Trust must develop a three-year plan to maximize energy savings for consumers by capturing all achievable, cost-effective opportunities. 

NRCM said Efficiency Maine’s proposed plan was approved by a unanimous vote of its Board of Trustees prior to submission to the PUC. The proposed three-year plan would have enabled Efficiency Maine to help consumers save $940 million over the lifetime of energy efficiency improvements.

NRCM accused PUC staff of recommending extensive changes to the proposed plan, “artificially reducing the value of the savings from energy efficiency improvements.”

“This action has the effect of prohibiting Efficiency Maine from providing incentives to consumers for the full range of energy-efficient equipment and technology that could help reduce energy bills and curb emissions,” NRCM stated. “For example, the staff recommendation would effectively disallow promotion of heat pump-based hot water heaters, which Efficiency Maine has previously found very effective at delivering cost savings to low-income households and others.”

NRCM said the PUC cut nearly 20%  — or $10 million per year — from Efficiency Maine’s proposed annual budgets, which the environmental organization said has a commensurate reduction in the ability to help Mainers save money on energy bills.

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May 17, 2019
Energy efficiency is often referred to as 'hidden fuel'; and while hindsight is 20/20 we'd be much better off if we had heeded Jimmy Carter's words 40 years ago. It's great that government is finally getting on the bandwagon, however most homeowners don't know where to begin to upgrade their home. This book helps them navigate the maze of energy efficiency upgrades.
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