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South Portland offers Electric Tool Library

South Portland's Electric Tool Library offers free rentals of expensive equipment for sustainable living.

SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine — South Portland is introducing a unique library experience that deviates from traditional norms. 

While a library card is still required, visitors won't find any books within its walls. 

Instead, the South Portland Electric Tool Library offers an array of battery-powered tools for free, enabling residents to access expensive equipment without the burden of ownership.

Susan Parmelee, South Portland's sustainability program manager, explained the motivation behind the innovative initiative.

"It can be very expensive and out of people's price range, so we want to give them the opportunity to use this equipment for free so they don't have to invest in it themselves," she said. 

The library allows residents to borrow items such as electric lawnmowers, which would typically be costly to purchase outright, and take them home to maintain their own yards.

The South Portland Electric Tool Library could quickly become a valuable resource for those who lack the financial means to buy tools or lack storage space such as Redbank Village in South Portland.

"It's a rental community, but everyone has to upkeep their lawns without being given equipment. We wanted to provide a free option for lawn equipment so people can use it," Parmelee said. 

This service not only supports individuals in need but also contributes to the city's objective of achieving 80 percent renewable resources by 2030 and ultimately 100 percent by 2050, as mandated by the state.

Residents interested in trying out battery-powered equipment can rent them for up to one week. 

Susan emphasized the improvement in battery technology for those who might share concerns. 

"It's improved a lot, it holds a charge much longer than it used to. We want to show people that's the case and give them a chance to try it out themselves," she said.  

This allows individuals to experience the benefits firsthand before considering a potential purchase. For those who have the means to purchase their own electric lawn and garden tools, the City of South Portland has another enticing offer. 

Julie Rosenbach, the city's sustainability director, shared details about the rebate program.

"We're offering rebates of $300 for electric lawn mowers, $100 for leaf blowers, and $50 for weed wackers for low to moderate-income households in South Portland," Rosenbach said. "This will assist people in overcoming the initial costs associated with buying this new equipment, which ultimately requires less maintenance and incurs lower costs than gas-powered alternatives over its lifespan."

To access the electric tools available for rental, individuals must possess an active South Portland library card

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