Governor Unveils New $7 Million Energy Loan ProgramSeptember 13, 2006 - TRCAUGUSTA – Governor Baldacci unveiled today another innovative program from his Administration to assist Maine families in meeting this winter’s home heating bills. The new $7 million Home Energy Loan Program (HELP) provides low interest rate energy improvement loans to Maine’s working families.“This is welcome news to Maine homeowners who are concerned about the high cost of heating their homes this winter, and in paying for their overall energy needs,” Governor Baldacci said. “MaineHousing estimates that HELP may enable homeowners to cut their yearly energy consumption by up to 20 percent.”The MaineHousing (Maine State Housing Authority) program provides loans of up to $15,000 at an interest rate as low as one percent to homeowners with incomes up to 115 percent of the area median income. Loans are used to invest in improvements. Loans are made at one percent interest to homeowners who make improvements suggested by a certified energy auditor, and at three percent interest to those who do not use an energy auditor. The cost of the energy audit may be included in the loan.The HELP loans can finance energy improvements in one-four unit owner occupied homes and mobile homes less than 20 years old. Owners of those properties are eligible to apply if their incomes are within the following limits:“We think this is an important and beneficial program for Maine’s homeowners, and for the state of Maine,” said MaineHousing Director Dale McCormick. “Governor Baldacci has encouraged us to make Maine more energy independent, and save some homeowners money. HELP is a step toward that goal.”McCormick said HELP loans can be used to fund a variety of energy conservation measures, including insulation and weather-stripping, heating system repair or replacement, storm doors and storm windows, purchase of Energy Star rated appliances and windows, and others. The loans are available from the following lenders: Bath Savings Institution; (Bangor Savings Bank); Camden National Bank; Northeast Bank; Northeast Home Loan; Norway Savings Bank; Skowhegan Savings Bank; The First; and United Kingfield Bank.The Governor was pleased by the decision from the federal government to release Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) emergency funds, $7 million of which will come to Maine. In addition to the Baldacci Administration’s efforts to have these LIHEAP funds released, the Governor initiated Operation Keep ME Warm, a volunteer program that provides and installs energy efficiency materials in certain LIHEAP-eligible homes. The Governor and the Legislature worked earlier this year to ensure that $5 million was available to Maine people who rely on LIHEAP, and the Governor established a Keep Maine Warm Charitable Fuel Fund to raise money so that Maine people in need could obtain further relief. Additionally, the Governor has made energy conservation and investments in renewable energy a priority of his Administration.Program Details:Objective: Statewide program to help homeowners reduce energy costs. Although results will vary, owners who make energy conservation improvements identified in an energy audit may realize reductions in energy consumption ranging from 15% to 20% annually.Eligible Clients: Households that meet first time homebuyer income limits: Portland/So. Portland MSA (including Cumberland, Sagadahoc & York Counties): 1-2 person=$55,600; 3 or more=$63,940. All Other Counties: 1-2 person=$65,350; 3 or more=$75,150.Eligible Properties: 1 to 4 unite owner occupied homes and mobile homes up to and including those 20 years of age.Eligible improvements: Cost of energy AuditInsulation, air sealing & weather-strippingHeating system repair & replacementStorm windows & doorsEnergy Star rated windows & appliancesVentilation & moisture controlsRoof repairs if attic insulated to R-38Energy Auditors: Must be certificed by one of the following: State of Maine; Building Performance Institute (BPI); Residential Energy Services Network; Northeast Home Energy Rating System Alliance.Funds available: $7 millionLoan Terms & Options: Maximum loan amount: $15,000Maximum term: 15 years1% interest loans if owner hires a certified energy auditor and implements recommendations of the energy audit3% interest loans if owner chooses not to use a certified energy auditor.Underwriting: Debt to Income Ratio up to 45%; Loan to Value up to 106% (100% for mobile homes)3rd Party Fees: Paid by borrower; may be added to the loan amount.Program Delivery: HELP approved lenders. Lenders earn origination fee of $400/loan paid by MaineHousing.Participating Lenders: Bath Savings InstitutionNorway Savings BankCamden National BankSkowhegan Savings BankNortheast BankNortheast Home LoanThe FirstUnitedKingfield BankLender Responsibilities: Submits loans to MaineHousing for purchase immediately after right of recission expiration. Manages escrow account. Escrow funds must be disbursed within 6 months from date of closing. Upon final escrow disbursement, executes Completion Affidavit.Loan Servicing: All loans must be service released to Financial Institution Services Corporation (FISC)For more information, contact MaineHousing at 626-4400 or visit www.mainehousing.org.NOTE - This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of the TRC Alliance Team.