We are in the thick of our legislative session, and my colleagues and I are engaged in conversations, committee hearings and work sessions gathering feedback from Mainers across the state, including many of you, regarding issues that matter. Recently, I had the opportunity to present one of my bills in my first public hearing before the Education and Cultural Affairs Committee. This bill would create a green schools coordinator within the Maine Department of Education (DOE).

In December, I met with Biddeford Schools Superintendent Jeremy Ray, who noted that rising energy costs present a significant and growing strain on our district’s budget. Schools are taking steps to address these costs and, wisely, are attempting to make significant investments in renewable energy, weatherization and other initiatives which will save local taxpayers money and reduce their carbon footprint. For example, Biddeford schools recently signed up with a community solar array that will include 1,200 solar panels on the rooftops of the Pepperell Mill Campus.

As Mainers work to meet our state’s climate goals, school districts are one place where we can make a major impact. Districts throughout the state manage large buildings which use a lot of energy. These buildings would benefit from energy efficiency renovations such as added insulation, and heat pumps, and from adopting strong clean energy standards in new facility construction.

However, in many districts, identifying long-term solutions and funding sources, as well as identifying and negotiating with contractors, falls on the superintendent. Most superintendents have limited time in their schedules to successfully pursue these initiatives, and they need help.

That’s where my bill comes in. The work of the green schools coordinator in the DOE would be to support information gathering on available options for school boards and superintendents, provide support for negotiations with contractors and help districts identify funding opportunities, such as revolving loan funds, the Inflation Reduction Act and U.S. Department of Education grants for energy improvements at public school facilities. Importantly, the coordinator would work with a broad range of stakeholders who could assist in these efforts, including but not limited to district staff, community leaders, businesses, labor unions, such as the members of the Building Trades Council.

I believe establishing this role within the department will help streamline necessary efforts to make our school facilities more energy efficient, environmentally sound and cost-effective.


Fortunately, the department agrees! They testified in support of my bill, and have requested a similar position in the proposed two-year state budget. I support the department’s request, and if it is funded in the budget, my bill will no longer be necessary. This is an interesting aspect of the legislative process — there can be more than one way to achieve the same goal!

This effort is supported by other organizations as well, including the United States Green Building Council, Maine Labor Climate Council, Maine Environmental Education Association and Maine Education Association.

Whether through the budget or my bill, I hope to see this coordinator position become a reality. Our schools need this crucial tool to help them be proactive in addressing their energy costs and helping Maine meet its goals for addressing climate change.

I hope you will follow our progress on this issue and more as we continue our work. Through the Legislature’s website, members of the public can view public hearing schedules, sign up to testify live before the committee and access a livestream of the committee hearings online.

As always, please feel free to reach out to me with any concerns you have. My email address is [email protected] My office can be reached at 207-287-1430.

Rep. Marc Malon is serving his first term in the Maine House, representing a portion of Biddeford. He serves as a member of the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee and the Labor and Housing Committee.

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