Economic, Environmental, and Public Health Benefits Cited
A broad coalition of organizations and legislators today announced their support for legislation introduced by Sen. Phil Bartlett (D-Cumberland) that would increase energy efficiency programs in Maine – potentially saving tens of millions of dollars for consumers, reducing environmental impacts from energy use, and promoting public health through reduced air pollution.
“With energy costs going through the ceiling for Maine businesses and homeowners, now is the time to do everything we can to improve energy efficiency beneath those ceilings,” said NRCM Advocacy Director Pete Didisheim. “Maine is at a clear competitive disadvantage when states all around us are doing a better job than we are wringing out wasted energy costs.”
One provision of “An Act to Encourage Energy Independence for Maine” would double funding for the Efficiency Maine program that runs statewide programs to improve energy efficiency for low income customers, businesses, homeowners, schools, and state buildings.
“Efficiency Maine’s programs in 2005 delivered $2.26 in benefits for every $1.00 invested,” said Matthew Davis of Environment Maine. “This program deserves strong support from the Legislature, so residents, towns and businesses can save money and help protect the environment through energy efficiency.”
“Improving energy efficiency is one of the central strategies of Maine’s plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other forms of air pollution,” said Norm Anderson, Director of Research, American Lung Association of Maine.
According to Efficiency Maine’s 2005 Annual Report to the Legislature, the program’s investments last year resulted in an estimated reduction of 17,620 tons of carbon dioxide, 56,449 lbs of sulfur dioxide, and 20,453 lbs. of nitrogen oxides.
“We are in the midst of our generation’s energy crisis, and Maine consumers need energy efficiency programs now more than ever,” said Michael Stoddard of Environment Northeast. Environment Northeast has calculated that Maine businesses and citizens spent more than $1 billion in 2004 just for natural gas and home heating oil, and most of that money goes out of state. “The good news is that with energy efficiency, every energy dollar saved stays here at home to support local businesses and jobs,” said Stoddard.
“We are particularly pleased that this legislation would help foster energy efficient construction practices,” said Steve Hinchman of the Conservation Law Foundation. “As an insurance against skyrocketing energy costs in the future, we need to be sure that new schools, new homes, and new businesses are designed to operate as cost-effectively as possible in terms of energy use.”
Maine has some of the oldest and least efficient housing stock in the nation – with an estimated 45% of Maine homes built build before 1960, and 54% of the heating equipment at least 10 years old, according to Maine’s Office of Energy Independence and Security.
“The Legislature has to make many tough decisions, but this shouldn’t be one of them. Energy efficiency is a no-brainer,” said Melissa Carey with Environmental Defense. “Maine has only just begun to scratch the surface in terms of energy efficiencies that create real financial returns for Mainers. One study done by Optimal Energy in 2002 concluded that Maine could save more than half a billion dollars in energy costs through 2012 as the result of cost-effective investments in energy efficiency.”
“Teaching about energy efficiency remains the foundation of Chewonki’s energy-related education efforts because the effort involved is relatively small while the monetary and environmental returns are large and easy to quantify. This legislation will facilitate Mainer’s efforts in this important area,” said Peter Arnold of the Chewonki Foundation.
Organizations that support “An Act to Encourage Energy Independence in Maine,” as of January 5, 2006:
•American Lung Association of Maine
•Conservation Law Foundation
•Clean Air-Cool Planet
•Green Campus Consortium
•Maine Center for Economic Policy
•Maine Clean Communities
•Maine Climate Campaign
•Maine Council of Churches
•Maine League of Conservation Voters
•Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners’s Association
•Maine Physicians for Social Responsibility
•Maine Public Health Association
•Maine Small Business Alliance
•Natural Resources Council of Maine
•National Environmental Trust
•Sierra Club – Maine Chapter
•U.S. Green Buildings – ME Chapter
•U.S.M. Sustainability Office