November 2021 Program Newsletter
This fall, we are thankful for all the communities leading climate action in our region, from climate action planning to installing EV charging stations and more. This edition of our newsletter features updates on many of our regional projects and initiatives. We wrapped up the year-long Southern Maine Solar Collaborative and kicked off a regional coastal resilience planning project. We also released the SMPDC Greenhouse Gas Inventory Protocol for Southern Maine Cities and Towns.

Read on to learn more about these and other exciting program updates!
Municipalities Save 27.5% on Solar with SMPDC
Through the Southern Maine Solar Collaborative, the towns of Fryeburg, Kittery, Kennebunkport, Ogunquit, and Old Orchard Beach as well as the Ogunquit Sewer District have each signed a net energy billing credit agreement with Encore Renewable Energy to receive solar credits for municipal electricity use. Together, the Southern Maine Solar Collaborative is purchasing solar credits equivalent to 68% of their aggregated electricity use, worth $823,000 in 2021. Using a joint procurement process, the collaborative secured a discount rate of 27.5% off the credit price. This will save the municipalities approximately $226,000 per year on electricity costs based on 2021 rates - and likely even more given the significant increase in electricity rates in 2022. If electricity prices remain the same, together the towns will save about $4.5 Million over the 20-year life of the contracts.

In addition to reducing municipal electricity costs, the solar procurement is a huge step in reducing the towns' climate impacts. As part of their contracts, the towns will receive all of the renewable energy credits (RECs) generated by their solar allocations. These RECs can be used to offset municipal carbon emissions and meet greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals. By keeping and retiring their RECs, the municipalities are directly investing in the local green energy economy.

The solar credits will be provided by two solar farms being built by Encore Renewable Energy. The collaborative will receive 100% of the solar credits and RECs from a 14.5 acre solar farm in Wilton, Maine. They will also receive 42% of the solar credits and RECs from smaller farm in Oakland, Maine.
Regional Coastal Resilience Planning Project Kicks-off and Engagement Website is Live!
The two-year regional coastal resilience planning project Climate Ready Coast - Southern Maine is now in full swing. The project's first stakeholder workshop was held virtually on October 27th and was attended by almost 60 people, including project Working Group, members of staff and committee members from the 10 municipalities, land trust representatives, and staff from partner state and federal natural resource entities. The event provided an overview of the project and featured presentations from coastal experts about Maine-specific and national level data, tools, and resources that can support coastal resilience planning. A recording of the workshop and presentation materials are available here.

Working Group members shared input on local coastal resilience needs and on topics that should be incorporated in the project's regional vulnerability assessment. The project team is utilizing that input, along with feedback from stakeholder surveys and interviews, to design the project's vulnerability assessment methodology to best address the needs of project municipalities and other stakeholders.

Share your input on coastal resilience issues and needs through the new engagement website!

The project website is now live and offers opportunities to stay informed about the project and engage with the project team to provide input on areas that are important to you, local coastal vulnerabilities, and what you would like to see included in the regional coastal resilience plan! Stakeholder engagement is a core part of the Climate Ready Coast project and the project team is committed to incorporating local priorities into this regional planning effort.
Greenhouse Gas Inventory Protocol Available
SMPDC has developed a step-by-step methodology to help Maine municipalities conduct community-wide greenhouse gas (GHG) inventories. A greenhouse gas (GHG) emission inventory is an important tool for municipalities looking to reduce GHG emissions and adapt to a low-carbon future.

The protocol guide provides step-by-step guidance on:
  1. What emissions to include in your inventory
  2. Where to find the necessary emissions data and
  3. How to calculate or measure the impacts of those emissions
 
It also includes:
  • The difference between community-wide and municipal GHG inventories
  • Indicators for tracking climate action progress
  • Ways to scale the inventory up or down, based on community needs and applicability

Have questions or interested in learning more? Contact SMPDC Sustainability Coordinator Karina Graeter ([email protected]). SMPDC staff are available for support, as well as to assist communities with completing a GHG inventory on a contract basis.
Regional Program Featured in MPR Climate Deep Dive Series
The Regional Program and local efforts to assess and plan for the impacts of climate change were recently featured by Maine Public Radio (MPR) as part of its "Climate Driven" deep dive series exploring climate change in Maine.

Coastal Resilience Coordinator Abbie Sherwin was interviewed by MPR's Susan Sharon for a story on the local impacts of sea level rise and how municipalities are preparing for impacts. The story highlighted several Regional Program projects, including an assessment of properties and property values impacted by sea level rise, as well as the Climate Ready Coast regional resilience planning project.

To hear and read the featured story, as well as other stories about climate change in York County, visit MPR's Climate Driven webpage here.
Transportation Emissions Project Featured at National Conference
Karina Graeter, Sustainability Coordinator, had the chance to share SMPDC's project "Estimating On-road transportation emissions in York County, Maine" at the 2021 Association of Metropolitan Planning Organizations annual conference. Her presentation entitled “Applying Telematics to Estimate Transportation Emissions in York County, Maine,” provided an overview of the project and presented new findings on the differences in transportation emissions prior to and during the Covid-19 Pandemic.

Compared to 2019, transportation emissions in York County decreased 11.8% in 2020. While the change in transportation emissions varied widely across the region, the coastal towns saw the biggest decrease in emissions due to the shuttering of the region's tourism economy during the pandemic lockdown. In comparison, the transportation emissions barely changed in the exurban areas of central York County.
Recent Legislation and Maine Climate Council Updates
At the federal level, the bipartisan Infrastructure and Jobs Act was recently signed into law, bringing with it $1.2 trillion in funding for infrastructure with a focus on climate change mitigation, resilience, and equity. Included in the legislation is $550 billion in new spending on infrastructure investments nationwide including roads, bridges, rail, transit, the electric grid, water systems, and broadband internet. Maine will see at least $2.37 billion of this new spending, with the potential to receive more through competitive grants. Stay tuned for more information about what this could mean for your municipality.
In Maine, the Governor's Office of Policy Innovation and the Future is expected to role out a new grant opportunity in the new calendar year to support community resilience. The new program will provide $4.75 million over two years for local and regional planning grants to assist Maine communities to prepare for climate change effects, reduce carbon emissions, and transition to renewable energy. Additionally, Governor Mills recently unveiled initiatives from the Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan to help Maine people weatherize their homes, reduce dependence on harmful fossil fuels, and invest in workforce development programs to grow clean energy and energy efficiency jobs in Maine.

Stay tuned for details about the new grant opportunity! Please reach out to Regional Program staff for assistance with developing project ideas and drafting proposals.

Upcoming Maine Climate Council meetings (registration for all available here):
  • Maine Climate Council meeting: December 1st, 12:00 - 4:00p.m.
  • Equity Subcommittee meeting: November 18th, 3:00p.m.
  • Transportation Working Group meeting: November 29th, 8:30a.m.

Lastly, the Governor’s Office of Policy Innovation and the Future is hosting a virtual conservation about environmental and climate justice in Maine on Wednesday, December 7th from 9-11am. Register here.
Energy audits of all shapes and sizes
The SMPDC Energy Audit Program can tailor energy audits to fit your farm or business needs! Last September, a devastating fire shut down Nest and Mullen, a slaughter house in Kennebunk. Now operating in a temporary building, they're looking to rebuild. Through the SMPDC Energy Audit Program, they will receive an assessment of their current energy uses, future energy needs, and recommendations for how to design their new building to maximize energy efficiency.
Funding Opportunities

  • Maine Downtown Center: RevitalizeME Grant Program - $660,000 in matching grants are available for development, pre-development and energy efficiency projects in 22 communities associated with the Center. Required Grantee ZOOM Meeting, December 1, 2021, 12:30–2:00 PM.

  • USDA: Community Forest Program - Grants to acquire and conserve forests that provide public access and recreational opportunities. Applications due January 10.

  • Efficiency Maine: Level 2 EV Chargers RFP - Seeks proposals to host, purchase, install, and operate Level 2 electric vehicle (EV) chargers to serve EVs at multi-unit dwellings (MUDs). Deadline January 20, 3:00 PM. 
Trainings and Resources
  • NEW Maine Climate Change Adaptation Providers Network Website: The Maine Climate Change Adaptation Providers (CCAP) Network is a network of adaptation professionals committed to working together to build community resilience in Maine. The new website compiles the best information and best practices to assist communities in building local climate resilience.
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