Energy prices are front of mind for Mainers, and with good reason.

Winter weather is becoming increasingly unpredictable, and our reliance on fossil fuels to heat our homes and power the grid means we regularly feel the effects of global events in our wallets. The Legislature now appears poised to pass a bill to provide direct emergency relief to Mainers, which will alleviate some of the current pressure. If we want to avoid finding ourselves in the same situation again, we need to turn our attention to finding long-term solutions.

To achieve this, we should build on the clean energy and energy efficiency accomplishments of the past four years. In that time, Governor Mills and the Legislature have made tremendous strides toward helping Maine address our energy and climate crises, investing in home and business weatherization, heat pump incentives, electric transportation and clean electricity to reduce our reliance on costly fossil fuels. Now our lawmakers have an important opportunity to take that progress to the next level – making key investments to speed Maine’s clean energy transition. They should seize it.

To start, we should continue to diversity our electricity generation. Renewable energy has advanced substantially in recent years, becoming a cost-competitive source of electricity that can save all Mainers money. The Legislature should direct the Public Utilities Commission to procure additional solar and wind energy to lock in low electricity prices for ratepayers through long-term power purchase agreements.

With transportation contributing over half of Maine’s greenhouse gas emissions, lawmakers should also take steps to increase the supply of electric vehicles in the state. Adopting clean car and clean truck standards like those recently adopted by Vermont will ensure that Mainers have access to the latest models at auto dealerships in the coming years. We also need to provide robust funding for a range of clean transportation and heating measures, from Efficiency Maine’s rebate and financing programs to MaineDOT’s public and active transportation projects.

Through my participation in Maine’s Climate Council, I heard from Mainers from across the state who are urging us to take action now. By focusing on ensuring that modest-income Mainers, vulnerable communities, local governments, and small businesses benefit first and most, the Legislature can help ensure Maine makes this transition equitably. By siting new clean energy infrastructure thoughtfully and strategically – prioritizing solar projects on brownfields and other degraded or developed lands, for example, we can move forward rapidly but also responsibly.


Measures like these can dramatically reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. Even then, Maine communities will continue facing the effects of climate change in the years ahead, whether in the form of sea level rise on the coast, unpredictable weather and seasonal shifts, or increased flooding of our roads and bridges.

It’s equally important that lawmakers continue investing in community resilience initiatives so our towns can rise to face these challenges. Programs like the Community Resilience Partnership and state support for municipal planning can make an enormous and critical difference throughout Maine.

A key opportunity in this regard is the Department of Environmental Protection’s municipal stream crossing grant program. Without additional funding for towns to upsize their culverts, the increasing frequency and intensity of storms in Maine will lead to more road washouts like we saw in Jackman this past summer. This under-the-radar program has funded close to 200 culvert upgrades from York to Fort Kent over the past eight years – but funding will soon run out without legislative action. It’s essential that we build on this and other successful programs, while taking full advantage of new federal funding opportunities.

The 131st Maine Legislature is taking important action to address high energy costs. Now, they should build on the progress of the past four years and make real headway toward addressing the root causes of our climate and energy crises. The new year and the new legislative session present a unique opportunity to do exactly this.

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