AUBURN – The city is launching a program that will double the incentives offered by Efficiency Maine when residents invest in energy efficiency upgrades.
Using $ 250,000 in funds from the American Rescue Plan Act, Auburn announced this week that it has launched the Sustainable Auburn Matching Rebate program, aimed at encouraging residents to invest in energy-efficient home upgrades.
This is the first authorized expenditure of the city’s $ 13.5 million funding under the American Rescue Plan Act.
In a press release on Wednesday, officials said any Auburn owner who received an Efficiency Maine rebate as of September 1 of this year is eligible for a matching grant from the city of up to 1,000. $.
Efficiency Maine offers incentives on energy efficient biomass boilers and ovens, circulation pumps, heat pumps, insulation and appliances.
Mayor Jason Levesque said Thursday that the program had been developed to meet two “basic needs” within the city: to increase the affordability of living in Auburn, whether owner or tenant and “to revive the rehabilitation of our old housing stock with an emphasis on renewable energies. energy.”
“It is well known that Efficiency Maine offers financial incentives for the purchase of high efficiency equipment or for changes that help people save electricity, natural gas and other fuels throughout Maine. “said Liz Allen, director of communications. “Through Auburn’s Sustainable Matching Rebate Program, Auburn residents can double their Efficiency Maine rebates.”
Levesque said the effort was tied to Auburn’s broader talks on tackling the affordable housing shortage. He said affordability isn’t just the cost of a monthly rent or mortgage, but also the monthly utility costs, especially in Maine.
“One of the highest costs of home ownership is energy,” the press release said. “Due to rising utility costs, consumers are looking for innovative solutions. Energy efficiency is a great way to save energy and money, and often improve comfort, safety and maintenance costs in the process.
Levesque said Efficiency Maine’s average discounts ranged from $ 300 to $ 1,200, with discounts also depending on income level. He said the use of items such as air exchange water heaters and heat pumps could be of particular benefit to Auburn and its aging building stock.
The city sees the first round of funding as a pilot program, but may apply more funding to the initiative next year depending on demand.
According to the press release, the program is limited to residential applicants only and applies to all incentives offered by Efficiency Maine, except vehicles. Applicants must be residents of Auburn and must have already received the Efficiency Maine discount before applying for the match.
Originally, the program was to target two low-income census tracts in the city, but according to city manager Phil Crowell, staff received clarification that the rebate could be offered city-wide.
According to Allen, the application process is “straightforward” and can be viewed on the city’s website, www.auburnmaine.gov.
Auburn officials are also in talks to allocate other portions of its American Rescue Plan Act funding, including a redesign of Festival Plaza on Main Street that could cost between $ 1.65 and $ 2.38 million. .
Officials said the plaza project is an eligible expense under two sections of US bailout law related to economic support and assistance for tourism.