Three energy saving workshops for businesses announced
Hermon, ME — As Maine businesses continue to struggle with high energy costs driven by oil and natural gas prices, a diverse set of leaders in Maine is calling on businesses to consider investments in energy efficiency. Governor John Baldacci joined NRCM, the Maine Chamber of Commerce and others in announcing three solutions-oriented workshops designed to help businesses and other institutions learn how to start saving energy and money. The workshops start on October 7 in Saco, ME, followed by Lewiston and Bangor later in the month.
“As a state, we spend more than $5 billion on energy annually – and most of those dollars flow straight out of Maine to pay for imported fuels,” Governor Baldacci said. “I have a selfish goal: I want us to do everything that we possibly can to keep energy dollars in our own pockets. I want Maine to have the most energy efficient economy in New England.”
“There’s at least one thing that businesses, government and conservation groups agree on: Maine has thousands of businesses that can benefit from energy efficiency, just like the store we’re at today,” Baldacci said.
Speakers gathered at the Danforth Down Home Supermarket in Hermon, ME, where a $38,000 grant and technical assistance from Efficiency Maine helped store owners Dick and Marley Danforth invest in high-efficiency refrigeration equipment. “It is easy to get frustrated with high energy prices. Here at the store, we decided to pursue some energy efficiency upgrades so we could take a little control of our costs,” said Dick Danforth. “Our new compressor, fans and coolers will cut our energy bills by more than $42,000 a year.”
Brownie Carson, Executive Director of the Natural Resources Council of Maine, noted “Our dependence on fossil fuels is wrecking havoc on our natural ecosystems, our health, our economy, and the treasured natural resources upon which our state depends. NRCM is pleased to be working with these and other organizations to support energy efficiency. We believe energy efficiency can and should be the foundation of our energy strategy because it is the cleanest and cheapest way to meet our energy needs.”
“It isn’t every day that business and environmental leaders stand together in agreement,” said Dana Connors, President of the Maine State Chamber of Commerce. “But we agree that reducing energy costs with investments in energy efficiency in Maine business—this is a strategy that is good for the environment and good for the economy.”
Despite the attractiveness of energy efficiency options, businesses sometimes face barriers to starting these energy saving projects. One of those barriers is simple awareness of the options, and of the resources available to make a project happen.
“Part of our role at the Chamber is to connect businesses with resources that can help them grow and succeed,” said Connors. “We’re pleased to help present these workshops for businesses and other institutions. Each workshop will feature businesses people. like Mr. Danforth, sharing the lessons from their projects, as well as experts who can introduce energy efficiency opportunities and resources.”
The sessions are entitled “Surviving the Energy Crisis: Practical energy efficiency workshops for businesses and other institutions” and are designed as pragmatic, non-technical forums for owners, managers and other decision-makers in Maine’s businesses and institutions.
Local and regional chambers of commerce, including the Androscoggin County and Bangor Region chambers, are also playing leadership roles in developing and promoting the workshops.
“Energy efficient refrigeration equipment in one store in Hermon will not change Maine’s energy future, but efficient refrigeration, lighting, motors, insulation and more in homes and businesses across the state can transform our energy situation in Maine,” said Carson.
A report this year from University of Southern Maine economist Charlie Colgan found that Maine could save $450 million dollars per year in energy costs from efficiency investments currently identified.
In the last five years, Efficiency Maine has delivered more than one million dollars in cash incentives to lower the cost of energy efficiency equipment for businesses in the greater Bangor area alone. That money was matched by private dollars from the businesses, and those investments are currently saving nearly 10 million kilowatt-hours every year. Across the state, Efficiency Maine created over $50 million in total net savings from the work they did with 500 businesses in 2007. Seventy percent of those were small businesses.
“Investments in efficiency can shift money currently going out of Maine back into our economy to create new jobs,” said Carson. “If you want to look for a green economy opportunity for Maine, here it is.” Economist Charlie Colgan’s report concluded that investing in achievable, cost-effective efficiency opportunities in Maine would create between 1,500 and 2,500 new jobs. Those jobs would range from weatherization and insulation contractors to engineers and technicians.