Brooks Winner

Spray Foam truck on a barge approaching Monhegan Island

ROCKLAND, ME—Just as Maine homeowners prepare for another heating season, Rockland-based Island Institute is gearing up to implement "Bridging the Rural Efficiency Gap," a two-year, $232,351 project recently funded by the U.S. Department of Energy State Energy Program Competitive Grant program through the Maine Governor's Energy Office (GEO).  The project will enable the Institute, GEO, and their partners to further develop and share strategies that help rural communities overcome barriers to implementing energy efficiency upgrades.
Maine has some of the oldest, least-efficient housing stock in the country with its rural areas often facing the added burden of high costs for heating fuel, fewer fuel options, and limited access to energy efficiency upgrades. The Island Institute has developed unique strategies to help communities overcome these barriers, increasing participation in efficiency upgrades and lowering energy costs for homes, businesses, and public buildings. Through group purchasing efforts, community organizing, and educational workshops, the Island Institute and local partners have facilitated efficiency programs that have reached more than 20% of all year-round island residents and resulted in more than $7.8M in lifetime energy savings.
With this grant, the Island Institute will further develop, document, and share strategies such as community-based, collective purchasing to increase the uptake of energy efficiency measures in rural areas of Maine and other parts of the nation.  As a result, the project is anticipated to lower costs, reduce environmental impacts of energy consumption, and strengthen local economies.
"Community aggregation for cost-effective energy products can not only provide consumer savings, but also is a sensible way to bring attention to addressing Maine’s residential energy challenges," says Patrick Woodcock, director of the Governor's Energy Office. "I’m encouraged that once again Maine has received competitive energy funding from the Department of Energy and look forward to executing this initiative with the Maine Island Institute and rural Maine communities.”
"The unique challenges that Maine island communities face are often the impetus for creative, effective solutions," explains Island Institute Community Energy Director Suzanne MacDonald. "In the case of investing in energy efficiency, islanders face even greater costs and logistical challenges than the rest of the state but have found ways to implement projects that are saving homeowners money and keeping them more comfortable. With this grant support, we look forward to helping other rural communities implement similar measures as we share these models more broadly and learn from our colleagues in other rural places."
The Island Institute is a non-profit organization based in Rockland, Maine that works to sustain Maine’s island and remote coastal communities. The organization’s work falls into six primary categories: community development, economic development, education, energy, marine resources, and media.
The Maine Governor's Energy Office (GEO) mission is to create effective public and private partnerships that advance Maine's energy security, economic development, and environmental health. The GEO is responsible for planning and coordinating state energy policy and serves as the primary energy policy advisor to the Governor.

Contact: Brooks Winner, Island Institute
(207) 594-9209 x148