The senators should affirm that running a business and making money aren’t mutually exclusive.
by Tim Soley, president of East Brown Cow Management in Portland
Portland Press Herald op-ed
PORTLAND — Climate change is getting expensive. As the president of East Brown Cow Management in Portland, I own and manage more than 20 properties in the area, so rising sea levels, extreme weather and other problems from climate change quite literally threaten the very foundations of the business I have built.
This winter’s unusual temperature swings – from minus-10 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit – make it hard to plan for maintenance costs, because ice costs a great deal more to deal with than snow, and the cold weather in the Northeast has contributed to spikes in the cost of natural gas, the low-carbon fuel I use to heat my buildings.
We are living in an important moment. It is now possible to invest in technologies that will enable us to leave a landscape to our children that is better than the one we inherited from our parents. Many of these technologies have been researched and improved over decades and are now off-the-shelf, practical, real-world products with proven results. To be sure, it requires a shift in priorities, but we can do it.
There’s so much more we each can do to operate a successful business while minimizing harm to our environment, and I’m proud to say that I’m tackling it head-on. In my buildings, I have added many common-sense climate solutions.
I’ve installed 23,000 watts of solar power on top of the Fore Street Garage. This, coupled with energy-efficient LED lighting throughout the parking decks, both reduces pollution and saves dollars, so my business can be profitable and my tenants can focus on growing Maine’s economy. As a result, this garage now consumes 75 percent less power from the electrical grid – a doubly positive bottom line, as it results in an increase in my profits, as well as an important contribution to the health of our environment.
I’m also installing an electric car charging station in this garage to both encourage electric car adoption and entice electric car drivers to stop and enjoy Portland’s vibrant downtown.
I am continuously reviewing emerging energy technologies by engaging professional engineers, electricians and heating and air conditioning technicians to find viable options to respond to these challenges.
All told, Maine deserves credit for our long-term national leadership in cleaning up the air and slowing climate change. For a decade already, we’ve participated in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which is cleaning up our power plants and investing in solutions like Efficiency Maine’s programs to help our homes and businesses run clean and lean.
At East Brown Cow, we have partnered with Efficiency Maine on dozens of projects to heat, cool and light our properties more efficiently. This reduces costs for our tenants and reduces the fuels we import from outside of Maine. These investments provide jobs for Maine workers and strengthen our community.
Now the Environmental Protection Agency is proposing that the rest of the country follow Maine’s RGGI lead by applying carbon pollution standards like ours to any new power plants that are built nationwide. These are common-sense proposals for clean air, the climate and for the competitiveness of Maine businesses.
However, powerful polluter interests are trying to prevent the EPA from doing its work and finalizing these power-plant rules. Indeed, support from Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King will be crucial to the success of these common-sense proposals. Both have made positive statements about climate action in general, but it is time for them to seize this opportunity and support these standards because they are a win for both Maine and the nation.
I am just one of nearly 275 business owners who have added their names to Maine Businesses for Climate Action, a sign-on letter asking our senators to support EPA measures to bring the rest of the country’s power plants up to the same standards as New England’s.
We hope that Sen. Collins and Sen. King will build on the climate leadership of Maine’s everyday businesspeople, on Maine’s leadership in RGGI, and on their own past work, and work hard for the common-sense EPA climate pollution standards for power plants.