Energy Incentive Programs, Maine

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Updated June 2015

What public purpose-funded energy efficiency programs are available in my state?

Maine’s restructuring law provides for energy efficiency programs through a statewide charge of up to 1.5 mills per kWh. These costs are included in the rates of the local electric distribution utilities.  Nearly $25 million was spent in 2014 on electric and gas energy efficiency programs.  These funds were augmented, starting in 2009, by Maine’s portion of proceeds from the northeastern states’ Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). Efficiency Maine, a state-chartered corporation under direction from the Efficiency Maine Trust, administers efficiency programs for businesses and residents. 

The following programs may be of interest to federal customers:

  • The Efficiency Maine Business Program offers prescriptive cash rebates for high-efficiency lighting products, compressed air systems, HVAC equipment, commercial refrigeration, and variable frequency drives. A custom program provides up to 50% of project costs, including labor, for retrofits, as well as up to 95% of the incremental cost of installed high-efficiency equipment over standard equipment for new construction and major renovations. Custom rebates are capped at $0.28/kWh of first-year savings and only projects that result in a yearly savings of at least 35,000 kWh are eligible.  Pre-approval is required for most purchases.  Note that due to a surge in demand for its incentives, Efficiency Maine suspended its electricity savings rebates in April, 2015.  Check the site for updates.  Efficiency Maine’s natural gas incentives (see below) are still active as is the Large Customer Program (also below).

  • Efficiency Maine sponsors a variety of Training Programs for professionals interested in energy-efficient practices and technologies. Trainings are delivered through community college programs, and professional associations, and are offered on an as-needed basis when there is enough demand for any given offering. An updated calendar on the website indicates when specific training programs are scheduled.

  • In addition to its traditional Business Program, Efficiency Maine in 2012 launched a competitive Large Customer Program   specifically targeted to large businesses and government facilities; customers with a peak load of at least 500 kW are eligible. The program provides between $50,000 and $2,000,000 through a series of periodic "program opportunity notices" for large energy efficiency and distributed generation projects. Up to 50% of total project costs will be reimbursed. 

  • Efficiency Maine also offers prescriptive Natural Gas Incentives for business customers. Incentives are offered for gas-fired boilers, furnaces, unit heaters, and commercial kitchen equipment. Incentives are somewhat higher for Unitil customers than others in the state.  In order to be eligible for incentives, the equipment must either be installed as part of a new construction project or be a replacement for equipment that has failed or otherwise reached the end if its useful life. Pre-approval is generally required for larger incentives; details can be found in the application.

  • The Maine Advanced Buildings Program incentivizes highly efficient new construction (30-35% better than the Maine code) at $1.75 per square foot (including $0.25 per sf for the design team), up to $175,000.

What utility energy efficiency programs are available to me?

For information on Maine’s electric utility energy efficiency programs, see the previous section.  

What load management/demand response options are available to me?

The Independent System Operator New England Inc. (ISO-NE) offers its Demand Resources  programs, which provide payments to electricity users for load reductions (of as little as 100 kW), either by reducing usage or operating on-site generation during periods of high demand.  Customers may participate in the programs through any participating member (“Market Participant”) of the New England Power Pool, such as a utility company, power marketer, competitive energy supplier, or independent curtailment service provider (CSP).  The Market Participant is allowed to aggregate load to reach the quantity qualification limit, so interested customers with less than 100 kW to offer may want to contact their utility or other eligible party. 

ISO-NE’s Forward Capacity Market (FCM) allows customers to bid their load reduction capabilities – whether constant (such as an indoor lighting retrofit project), seasonal (such as a new energy-efficient chiller plant), or dispatchable (such as a back-up generator or demand management actions) – into a forward capacity auction that allows demand-side resources to compete with supply-side ones.  Bids that are accepted are paid the auction clearing price.  These auctions take place annually for commitment periods three years in the future (though the qualification process begins roughly a year in advance). Interested facilities should contact a market participant regarding the auction schedule; in addition, market participants may have unfilled capacity commitments ahead of the next auction.

Market participation includes both active (conventional demand response, including real-time emergency generation) and passive (energy efficiency and distributed generation, including renewables) options. Active DR opportunities include:

  • Real-Time Demand Response, which provides an opportunity for customers to receive payments for responding to system emergencies.  Participants are paid a capacity payment (through the FCM) and for actual load reductions based on the real-time locational marginal price.  Customers must respond within 30 minutes and must be able to receive dispatch instructions through a market participant or their agent ("demand-designated entity"). Participating customers must also have interval metering installed at their facility.

  • Price-Responsive Demand, a real-time demand response option that allows participants to offer reductions into the day-ahead energy market.  These customers are paid for cleared reductions in the market and are expected to interrupt in real time (according to their offers).

  • Real-Time Emergency Generation, which is for generators whose federal, state, and local permitting limits operation to actual or imminent loss of external power.  Calls to participate are restricted to times when ISO-NE has instituted manual 5% voltage reductions. Real-Time Emergency Generation resources must be capable of curtailing end-use electric consumption from the New England grid within 30 minutes of receiving a dispatch instruction, and maintaining that curtailment until notified.  For an emergency generator that does not operate in parallel with the grid, the participating customer must have an interval meter installed on the generator (or entire facility). Otherwise, interval metering of both are required.

What distributed energy resource options are available to me?

The Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency  (DSIRE) website provides information on programs in Maine that offer incentives for renewable distributed generation.  Efficiency Maine (see above) has funded some renewable energy demonstration projects.  Contact them to assess current availability of funds.

Are there energy efficiency programs sponsored by the state government?

For information on state-sponsored energy efficiency programs, contact the Governor's Energy Office.

What additional opportunities are available to me?

Federal customers whose utilities have area-wide supply contracts through GSA (e.g., Central Maine Power and Maine Natural Gas), may be able to take advantage of 3rd-party financed energy efficiency projects called utility energy services contracts (UESCs). Information is available in GSA’s Energy Division Library. Federal facilities should contact their account executive to determine the level of each utility's participation.