Maine rolls out program to help truckers cut costs

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Maine Gov. John E. Baldacci recently unveiled an initiative to help truckers in the state who are hard-hit by skyrocketing diesel fuel prices. The new program sponsored by several state agencies will help truckers reduce their costs by $12,000 or more per rig, while improving air quality.

The program provides low-cost loans to trucking and other businesses for investments in energy-saving equipment. Baldacci, who says truckers already re lining up for funds to purchase auxiliary power units, hailed the program for providing much-needed relief for Maine’s small trucking companies.

“These loans are available right now at 3 percent for small businesses in Maine, and that can go a long way toward easing the pain of high energy prices,” Baldacci says. “And the program has another important benefit — reducing emissions from burning diesel fuel, which contribute to lung disease and global warming.”

The initiative marks a significant expansion of a low-cost energy conservation loan program administered by the Maine Public Utilities Commission (PUC). Funds provided by the Finance Authority of Maine have boosted the loan cap to $250,000 for energy-saving equipment, including APUs, bunk heaters for truck cabs and other technologies. In addition, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection plans to secure $100,000 in federal funds to be matched by the PUC funds, and dedicated to loans for APUs and other diesel pollution-reduction technologies.

For more information, call Shirley Bartlett, program manager for State Energy Programs, at 207-287-3318. Bartlett also can assist small Maine businesses with a free energy audit to help them identify potential energy-saving investments.