October 2023 Program Newsletter

Starting this fall, we are very excited to participate in the update of “Maine Won’t Wait”, the state’s four-year climate action plan that went into effect December 2020 and is due to be updated December 2024. Coastal Resilience Coordinator, Abbie Sherwin will be serving for a second time on the Community Resilience Planning, Public Health, and Emergency Management Working Group, while Sustainability Coordinator, Karina Graeter, will be joining the Transportation Working Group.


The Maine Climate Council met on September 29th to kick off the plan update. The meeting celebrated the great strides the state has made in climate action, including:


  • Awarding $6.1 million to 103 communities and regional groups through the Community Resilience Partnership. At this recent meeting, the state announced an additional $2.4 million in grants that will be awarded to 53 communities across the state.


  • The installation of 389 public electric vehicle charging stations, up from 184 in 2019.


  • Surpassing the state’s goal of installing 100,000 new heat pumps more than two years early.


  • Governor Mills signing into law that the state will reach carbon neutrality by 2045.



We are excited SMPDC’s Regional Sustainability and Resilience Program is playing a role in the State’s efforts to reach its climate goals and create a more resilient future. Read on below for quick updates on the work we have been doing.

Kittery and SMPDC Awarded $800K from DOE

We’re excited to share that the Town of Kittery was awarded the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) Competitive Program, a funding opportunity from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). RSRP program staff helped the Town apply for a grant to support the Southern Maine Energy Navigator Pilot, a three-year partnership between the RSRP pilot communities of Kittery, Kennebunk, Kennebunkport, Wells, and Ogunquit with the Southern Maine Planning and Development Commission and York County Community Action Corporation. 


The program will pair homeowners with Energy Navigators who will provide personalized guidance and support in navigating incentive programs. It also includes the $600,000 Southern Maine Energy Fund, which will be used to provide instant rebates to defray upfront costs required for existing rebate programs and subsidies to low- and moderate-income homeowners to minimize the total cost of energy upgrades. 


We hope to launch the Southern Maine Energy Navigator pilot in summer/fall of 2024! 

Welcome, Melanie!

Melanie Nash joined SMPDC this month as the Sustainability and Resilience Planner. Before joining SMPDC, Melanie worked as an Island Institute Fellow for the Town of Long Island in Casco Bay, where she worked on numerous municipal sustainability and development projects including Comprehensive Plan development, ordinance review, property assessment, and more. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Geography from Clark University in Worcester, MA, and a Master’s of Arts in Marine Affairs from the University of Rhode Island. Melanie currently lives in Westbrook, where she enjoys kayaking, cooking, and reading in her spare time.

Climate Ready Coast – Southern Maine Wraps-Up with Final Workshop and Release of Draft Regional Plan

The final workshop for the Climate Ready Coast - Southern Maine regional resilience project was held on October 18th at the Wells Reserve. The project team was joined by 28 people from the Working Group and Advisory Committee, representing 9 of the 10 project towns, local land trusts, state and federal natural resource agencies, and other partners.


The event kicked off with a presentation of the draft Regional Coastal Resilience Plan (which includes guidance resources about priority vulnerable areas across the region, locally relevant coastal adaptation strategies, renderings of example adaptation designs, and funding opportunities) and an overview of how communities can use the plan for scoping resilience projects and developing grant proposals for coastal adaptation action.


The workshop culminated with engaging discussions about needs, opportunities, and possible next steps for advancing local and regional coastal resilience projects. Stay tuned for release of the final Regional Coastal Resilience Plan in November!

CAP Cohort Update: From Strategies to Plans

The RSRP is leading the communities of Biddeford, Kennebunk, Kennebunkport, and Kittery in a collaborative cohort process to develop a unique local climate action plan for each community through the Southern Maine Climate Action Planning (CAP) Cohort project. This Fall we’ve been busy helping each community hone their strategies and writing the Biddeford Climate Action Plan.


Our public engagement consultants Morris Communications and Zoe Miller Strategies have supported extensive public engagement, including Community Sounding Board events, a Climate Action Open House, Focus Groups, and meetings with the local business community. Next we will be drafting Kittery’s Climate Action Plan, with Kennebunk and Kennebunkport’s soon to follow.


Project highlights:

Southern Maine Communities Receive $283,500 in Community Action Grants

As a Service Provider through the Community Resilience Partnership (CRP), SMPDC assisted several towns with grant proposal development for the most recent round of Community Action Grants. We’re excited to share that all 6 proposals we assisted on were awarded. Projects span energy, community resilience, and climate adaptation efforts.


  • The Town of Berwick will work with SMPDC to create an Open Space Plan and will build a new Community Garden.


  • The Town of Eliot will conduct a climate change vulnerability assessment.


  • The Town of Fryeburg will place a conservation easement on the Town Forest, build an outdoor education pavilion, and pilot a food scrap composting program.


  • The Town of Ogunquit will install a rooftop solar array at the Dunaway Community Center.


  • The Town of Old Orchard Beach will conduct an energy audit and implementation plan for municipal facilities.


  • The Town of York will undertake the York Energy Coach Program: A Residential Building Decarbonization Pilot Project.


Learn more about the Community Resilience Partnership and summer 2023 awardees here.

Welcome Back, Marissa!

After completing their eight-month term of service in the AmeriCorps Resilience Corps program as SMPDC’s Southern Maine Sustainability Fellow, Marissa Fink will be returning to SMPDC as a Planning Associate. They will be continuing their work with the Regional Sustainability and Resilience Program on the CAP Cohort project, as well as expanding their scope of work to include transportation planning and other varied projects. Marissa is excited to continue on at SMPDC!  

State Hazard Mitigation Plan Approved by FEMA

The State’s Hazard Mitigation Plan (HMP) update was formally approved by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) this September. The HMP is updated every five years, with Maine’s next update now due in September 2028. This plan is developed to best position the state for impacts of climate change, and as such has updated goals with every revision. The HMP’s five overarching goals are to protect lives, property and the environment from the impacts of climate change, to enhance state mitigation capabilities through multi-level partnerships, to improve public awareness of hazard mitigation, to implement mitigation activities that emphasize sustainability, and to build in equity to all facets of the HMP.


Along with these overarching goals, the HMP update makes the State and its communities eligible for federal mitigation funding and technical assistance programs. Grant programs now available to the State can fund projects like mitigation planning, building code updates, and more.


Find the plan online here: 2023 Maine State Hazard Mitigation Plan

Announcements

Central Maine Power (CMP) Awarded $30 million in Federal Grant Funds: CMP was recently awarded $30 million from the federal government to make the power grid more resilient to extreme weather events and climate change. This grant from the U.S Department of Energy is aimed at improving the ability of CMP and the power grid to respond to the increasing amount and intensity of storm events in Maine.


Public Comment Period Open for FEMA's Proposed Rule for Federal Flood Risk Management Standard: FEMA is now accepting comments on the proposed flood risk management standard. Public comments must be received by December 1st, 2023.

Trainings and Resources

  • FEMA Funding Workshop: Get a better understanding of the funding FEMA has available for your resilience projects. Generators, hazard mitigation planning, infrastructure project planning, engineering, construction, adaptation, and more! With Heather Dumais, State Hazard Mitigation Officer. Wednesday, November 8th, 1:30 - 3:30 pm In-Person at the Lincoln County Regional Planning Office, 297 Bath Rd. in Wiscasset and on Zoom. To attend, RSVP to Emily Rabbe at the Lincoln County Regional Planning Commission. If you are interested but cannot make it, check out SMPDC's recording of the same workshop from May here.


  • A Climate to Thrive; Local Leads the Way- Community-Driven Climate Action: Local Leads the Way was developed and is hosted by A Climate to Thrive (ACCT). This monthly zoom gathering provides support to communities throughout the state who are engaged in community-driven, solutions-focused climate action. Participants share resources, build networks of support, participate in trainings, collaborate, and reduce duplication of effort. This meeting is held online on the first Monday of every month at 4:00 pm. The next meeting is Monday, November 6th.

Funding Opportunities


Energy

  • Efficiency Maine Increased Incentives for Municipal HVAC Conversions: Efficiency Maine is seeking applications for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) and water heating projects for municipal buildings in Maine municipalities with 5,000 to 10,000 residents. This funding offers higher incentives than typically provided under the Commercial and Industrial Prescriptive Initiatives (CIPI), with the intent to accelerate the conversion to high-efficiency HVAC systems in municipal buildings across the state. Application submission deadline is March 1st, 2024.


  • Clean School Bus Funds: The US Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean School Bus program has released their next round of funding and the Maine Department of Education is helping schools to take advantage of this funding. Priority schools can apply for up to $345,000 towards the cost of a new electric school bus, and non-priority schools can apply for up to $200,000. Applications are due January 31st, 2024. To learn more and to learn how to apply, email [email protected].


  • Federal Solar Tax Credits for Businesses, Nonprofits, and Municipal and Tribal Governments: Two federal tax credits are newly available to municipalities and nonprofits! The investment tax credit (ITC) is a tax credit that reduces the federal income tax liability for a percentage of the cost of a solar system that is installed during the tax year. The production tax credit (PTC) is a per kilowatt-hour (kWh) tax credit for electricity generated by solar and other qualifying technologies for the first 10 years of a system’s operation. Communities enrolled in the Community Resilience Partnership (CRP) in Region 1 may contact R1CC Co-lead Gabe McPhail for guidance


Resilience

  • FEMA's Building Resilient Infrastructure & Communities (BRIC) Grants: BRIC grants support communities and tribes with hazard mitigation projects: Generators, Drainage Improvements, Emergency Shelters, Water Treatment Plant Renovations/Relocation, Fire Hazard Mitigation, Flood control, Micrograms, Sewer Upgrades, and much more. For more information, contact Heather Dumais, State Hazard Mitigation Officer, [email protected] or (207) 441-9510 with questions or project inquiries.


Water

  • Small Public Water System Emerging Contaminant Grants: Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention Division of Environmental and Community Health is offering grant funding for up to $60,000 for small public water systems projects to mitigate PFAS contamination. Grants are up to $50,000 with additional $10,000 available for engineering fees. This grant is offered on a rolling basis. If PFAS contamination is a concern for your community, contact Bill Dawson at Maine Department of Health and Human Services to discuss your project: [email protected] or (207) 287-6196. 


For a full list of funding and training resources, click here.

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