Bridging the Rural Efficiency Gap | Community-Based Energy Efficiency Models | Past Projects

Maine’s island and coastal communities face some of the highest electric and heating fuel costs in the U.S. To reduce this burden, the Island Institute helps island residents to increase energy efficiency in homes, businesses, schools, and other public buildings to reduce costs and increase comfort.  We partner with local organizations and energy experts to implement hands-on energy efficiency workshops and community-wide projects that facilitate collective purchases of weatherization services, efficient lighting, heating systems, and more. We also collaborate with partners in Maine and beyond to share what we’re learning so that these solutions are more accessible to rural communities facing similar barriers.

Not sure where to start?

Click here for our Energy Efficiency: Where to Start? infographic

Interested in organizing clean energy efforts in your community?

View the "Energizing Maine communities" guide 

Bridging the Rural Efficiency Gap

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 energy 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. Learn more about the Bridging the Rural Efficiency Gap project here.  

Community-Based Energy Efficiency Models

The Island Institute has worked with community partners to develop community-based models for local energy efficiency initiatives. Check out our What Works Solutions Library and the video below for more information about how we are working along the coast of Maine.


Past Projects

Casco Bay LED Bulk Buy

Replacing incandescent light bulbs with LEDs is a simple way to reduce energy costs in your home or business. In July 2017, residents of the Casco Bay islands of Peaks, Long, Chebeague, Cliff, and Great Diamond took advantage of a special deal for certain LED lightbulbs from Gilman Electrical Supply in Portland. By ordering bulbs through this program, year-round residents accessed wholesale pricing, existing Efficiency Maine markdowns, and markdowns offered by the Island Institute.

Monhegan and Matinicus Island Fellowship

From 2014 through 2016 Ben Algeo served as an Island Fellow on Monhegan and Matinicus in collaboration with the electric utilities on those islands.  This fellowship focused on addressing the need to lower energy costs through efficiency and conservation.  Ben inventoried the building stock, organized bulk purchases of LED light bulbs, and worked with the schools in both communities. He also assisted with a community energy planning project on Monhegan, and surveyed the Matinicus electric grid for potential line loss issues.

Save Like an Islander Fact Sheets

Our Energy team created a set of fact sheets as a resource for Mainers looking to save money on home heating through insulation and those looking into the possibility of using new, high-efficiency heat pumps to heat their homes.