Energy Pathway for Maine Announced by Bipartisan Diverse Public/Private Group
Businesses and Organizations Call on Maine’s Political, Business Leaders to Embrace Guiding Principles to Strengthen Economy, while Protecting Public Health and Environment
By Ramona du Houx
In Portland, Maine on September 26, 2018, a diverse group of organizations released published guidelines titled: Energy Pathway for Maine.
PHOTO. Community gathering to open the Kirby Wind Farm with Gov. John Baldacci and local leaders. The Baldacci administration helped clean energy businessess grow in Maine. Photo by Ramona du Houx
The publication outlines principles the state should adapt to protect our environment and public health by using clean energy technologies that bring jobs to Maine. This will leverage the state on the road to energy independence, strengthen the economy and increase prosperity.
“Maine businesses are ready to invest in clean energy, and we are ready to invest in them,” said Elizabeth Rogers, Chief Communications Office for Coastal Enterprises, Inc.
An unusually diverse mix of 20 nonprofits, businesses and trade associations endorsed these Pathway principles. Advocates for low-income Mainers to general contractors, and from faith leaders to high tech entrepreneurs signed on board.
“Maine has hundreds of renewable energy jobs today – from installers and operators to construction contractors, environmental specialists, and other professionals,” said Jeremy Payne, Executive Director of the Maine Renewable Energy Association. “Growth in this sector will strengthen Maine’s ability to attract and retain productive workers.”
With the release of the publication, the nonpartisan groups called on business, political and municipal leaders to recognize this common ground and take action for Maine’s future.
“With clear and sensible clean-energy policies in place, we can welcome vital investment capital to Maine, supporting innovation and spurring business growth,” said Maria Gallace with East Brown Cow Management, Inc. a large commercial real estate company in the Portland, Maine area.
The group’s guidelines where in place during the Baldacci administration, when Maine made significant progress working in a bipartisan way to help all the people of the state reduce energy costs that were inflated by fossil fuels consumption. Maine communities have acted independently of the state to progress their clean energy future and help lower the cost of living.
“Maine’s rural communities have a high energy burden and yet many are leading the way with practical, creative, community-based solutions that benefit both the economy and the environment,” said Brooks Winner with the Island Institute."
There is a growing frustration amongst businesses that grew during the Baldacci administration and were projected to continue to grow, bringing more jobs to Maine. The LePage administration has fought to stop clean energy growth in the solar and wind sectors.
“The costs of solar and wind have plummeted over the last decade; batteries and electric cars are getting cheaper fast,” said Fred Greenhalgh, with ReVision Energy. “Clean energy is cost-competitive today and getting better all the time.”
The group emphasized that it is especially important to have dialogue about Maine’s future during this election cycle when the next Governor and Legislature will be chosen.
While the principles are not new, their nonpartisan nature — and the diversity of signers — showcases how much common ground there is about the direction Maine should take. Over recent years there have been dozens of voter polls that affirm the fact that on these cross-cutting issues, more unites us than divides us.
The Energy Pathway for Maine document will be mailed to all legislative and gubernatorial candidates, as well as other stakeholders. A companion website, www.EnergyPathwayMaine.com, includes a place for additional businesses and organizations to sign-on as supporters.
“Clean energy is a win-win for Maine’s people and environment,” said Rob Wood, Energy Policy & Projects Advisory for The Nature Conservancy in Maine. “We can rely less on imported fuels, create good-paying jobs for our kids, and ensure our natural resources are protected for future generations.”
The group collectively recognized several challenges that relate to our energy economy:
- Maine is not keeping pace as the market for clean energy expands rapidly, while many states (as well as corporations, cities, and countries) have started to make a major energy transition.
- Maine exports $5 billion per year from the state economy to import fossil fuels, while abundant local energy resources remain untapped and our buildings remain inefficient.
- Maine people, including scientists, business owners, and others, recognize that a changing climate poses significant risks to Maine’s economy and environment.
- Many aspects of our economy and segments of our population remain vulnerable, not only to climate change but also to unaffordable energy, housing, and transportation.
- A lack of new opportunity contributes to an aging workforce that poses economic and demographic challenges.
- Maine can keep our energy dollars in state by investing in an energy future that makes our economy more dynamic, competitive, and clean.
- The state’s advantage and opportunities to create jobs come in part from abundant local energy resources that can increase prosperity and sustainability.
- Maine’s established goals for reducing carbon emissions are already aligned with sound science and consistent with goals being set by others regionally and globally.
- Mainers are known for our creativity and work ethic.
“Climate change is the most serious threat to Maine’s environment, and poses enormous risks to the health of Maine people and our economy,” said Dylan Voorhees, Clean Energy Director at the Natural Resources Council of Maine. “The rest of the world is acting and we act must, too.”
The six principles outlined in Energy Pathway for Maine are:
- Maine must act to benefit from significant energy transitions under way around the world.
- Maine’s economy is tied to its environment, a connection that is part of our history and the opportunities ahead.
- Climate change is causing Maine people to experience significant disruptions in their daily lives and bottom line. They want practical ways to do their part to ensure a safe climate for Maine people today and in the future.
- Innovation and competitive markets offer the fundamental solutions to our energy challenges and take advantage of Maine’s entrepreneurial and resourceful spirit.
- Maine needs a long-term energy plan that benefits all Mainers, rural and urban, and across income levels.
- Mainers are concerned about the cost of energy. Reducing energy costs is one of many important objectives for greater prosperity and quality of life in Maine.