AUBURN — The city is launching a program that will double the incentives offered by Efficiency Maine when residents invest in energy efficient improvements.

Using $250,000 in American Rescue Plan Act funds, Auburn announced this week it had launched the Sustainable Auburn Matching Rebate Program, aimed at encouraging residents to invest in energy efficient home improvements.

It’s the first expenditure that’s been authorized from the city’s $13.5 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding.

In a Wednesday news release, officials said any Auburn homeowner who has received an Efficiency Maine rebate on or after Sept. 1 of this year qualifies for a matching grant from the city for up to $1,000.

Efficiency Maine offers incentives on energy efficient biomass boilers and furnaces, circulator pumps, heat pumps, insulation and appliances.

Mayor Jason Levesque said Thursday that the program was developed to meet two “fundamental needs” within the city: increasing the affordability of living in Auburn, whether homeowner or renter and, “jump-starting rehabilitation in our older housing stock with a focus on renewable energy.”

“It is widely known that Efficiency Maine offers financial incentives on the purchase of high-efficiency equipment or changes that help people save electricity, natural gas and other fuels throughout Maine,” Liz Allen, director of communications, said. “Through the Sustainable Auburn Matching Rebate Program, Auburn residents can double their Efficiency Maine rebates.”

Levesque said the effort ties into Auburn’s larger discussions over addressing the affordable housing shortage. He said affordability is not just the cost of a monthly rent or mortgage, but also monthly utility costs, especially in Maine.

“One of the highest costs of home ownership is energy,” the news release said. “Because of increasing utility costs, consumers are seeking 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 average rebates from Efficiency Maine range from $300 to $1,200, with rebates also depending on income level. He said the use of items like air exchange water heaters and heat pumps could be particularly beneficial to Auburn and its aging housing stock.

The city is viewing the first round of funding as a pilot program, but could apply more funding to the initiative next year depending on demand.

According to the news release, the program is limited to residential applicants only and applies to any of the incentives offered by Efficiency Maine, except vehicles. Applicants must be Auburn residents, and must have already received the Efficiency Maine rebate prior to applying for the match.

Originally, the program was slated to be targeted at two low-income census tracts in the city, but according to City Manager Phil Crowell, staff received clarification that the rebate could be offered citywide.

According to Allen, the application process is “simple” and can be found on the city’s website, www.auburnmaine.gov.

Auburn officials have also been in talks to allocate other portions of its American Rescue Plan Act funding, including an overhaul of Festival Plaza on Main Street that could cost between $1.65 million and $2.38 million.

Officials have said the plaza project is an allowable expenditure under two sections of the American Rescue Plan Act related to economic support and tourism aid.


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