Expanding Access to Clean Energy Financing in
Remote and High Energy Cost Communities

Islands and other rural communities throughout the United States pay some of the highest costs for electricity and heating fuel. With such high energy costs, the financial benefits of energy efficiency can be significant, but if you live in one of these rural places, it can be difficult to find financing for energy upgrades or a contractor who will work in your area.

We call these financial and logistical barriers the "Rural Efficiency Gap."

The Island Institute is working to bridge this gap, partnering with the Maine Governor’s Energy Office and a team of experts from other rural states. The Bridging the Rural Efficiency Gap project is designed to make it easier for residents of rural communities in oil-dependent states like Maine, Alaska, New Hampshire, and Vermont to increase the energy efficiency of their homes and lower their energy bills with the support of well-designed financing programs that work in rural places.

Project materials

White paper
This report is designed to be a resource for energy efficiency program administrators but may also be of interest to energy efficiency program implementers, policymakers, and regulators. It provides data about the rural energy efficiency gap and identifies barriers to energy efficiency in rural communities. It also highlights strategies that are helping to bridge the gap by making it easier for residents in cold climate, petroleum dependent states—those with high thermal energy burdens—to increase comfort and safety in their homes while also reducing energy bills. The barriers to rural energy efficiency identified in this report have been grouped into three categories: geographic barriers, financial barriers, and awareness and access barriers.

Read the full white paper here.

Video series
Through interviews with energy efficiency program administrators and implementers, the Bridging the Rural Efficiency Gap video series looks at the financial and logistical barriers that islands and other rural communities face when implementing energy efficiency, and the “bridging strategies” that have been tested in Alaska, Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont. 

Bridging The Rural Efficiency Gap - Part 1: Why Rural Matters

Bridging The Rural Efficiency Gap - Part 2: Bridging Strategies

What Works resource entry
Residents of Maine’s island and coastal communities face challenges that are similar to those of many other small, rural communities. The Island Institute's What Works Solutions Library features case studies and practical information about how residents of rural communities have successfully addressed these common community challenges. 

View the What Works entry: "Overcoming Barriers to Rural Energy Efficiency"

On Tuesday, October 30, 2018, the NASEO Rural Energy Task Force and the Maine Governor’s Energy Office held a webinar on the multi-state Bridging the Rural Efficiency Gap effort. The webinar highlighted data collected by project partners about energy burdens and barriers to energy efficiency in rural parts of Alaska, Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont. Presenters also shared case studies from these states that demonstrate the solutions that program administrators and program implementers are identifying to increase the uptake of energy efficiency in rural communities.

View the Bridging the Rural Efficiency Gap webinar here

Project Partners

For the Bridging the Rural Efficiency Gap project, the Island Institute partnered with a team of experts in rural energy efficiency from around the country including:


Are you interested in making energy efficiency more accessible to rural communities? Contact Suzanne MacDonald, Senior Community Development Officer, Island Institute, at smacdonald@islandinstitute.org, or 207-594-9209 x144, for more information.

An insulation trailer unloads from a barge during a Weatherization Week on Monhegan Island, Maine


The Bridging the Rural Efficiency Gap project is funded by a U.S. Department of Energy State Energy Program Competitive Award.