A view of downtown Eastport, ME. Photo by The Indestructible Enforcer via Flickr.
Eastport, Maine is a charming rural community vying for its survival.
An island off Maine’s northern coast, Eastport is actively working to reduce the town’s increasingly substantial winter heating costs. To help in this effort, the community applied for and received a 2012 free technical assistance workshop from Smart Growth America and Otak, made possible by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities program.
Eastport depends almost entirely on fossil fuels for winter heating, and pays more for them as compared to the rest of the country. And while all of Maine has severe winters and high heating costs, Eastport is a rural community that serves a primarily low-income and older population, making these obstacles even more challenging. The cost of heating has implications for Eastport residents’ disposable income, the region’s economy, and even home foreclosure trends. The city recognized that it needed to find a more sustainable, efficient, and affordable way to heat buildings.