By Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx, D-Brunswick
March 21, 2012
With oil prices inching up each day, now is the worst time to undercut energy efficiency programs that have helped put more money in the pockets of Maine families and businesses. But that is exactly what Governor Paul LePage and his Republican allies are doing.
Common sense will tell you the cheapest form of energy is the one you don’t use. By reducing the use of energy it takes to heat your home or business, the more money you save. This approach has worked here in Maine, for families, and for Maine companies like Reny’s, but it has also been used across the country and the world, for that matter.
As a veteran who recently served in the war in Iraq, I can tell you I’ve seen first-hand how the U.S. military has capitalized on energy efficiency, saving millions of taxpayer dollars.
The Marines are using energy efficiency foams to reduce energy by 50 to 75 percent on their forward operating bases. The Army will have one of the world’s largest electric vehicle fleets in the next three years, with over 4000 vehicles, and the air force aims to have 50 percent of aviation fuel from biofuel blends by 2016. The Navy is launching the Great Green Fleet by 2016, which aims to make destroyers more efficient by adding hybrid engines.
Our military is working to become more efficient and use a variety of energy sources because they know it saves them much needed funds and makes us more secure.
Likewise, in Maine, our energy efficiency programs have helped businesses and Maine families save $465 million during the past year. Maine’s investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy has created more than 12,000 good-paying jobs in our state.
These programs are administered by the Efficiency Maine Trust, which was set-up as an independent organization to help Maine people save on their energy bills.
The good news is these programs are working.
Efficiency Maine’s home energy savings rebate program cut these residents’ energy use by an average of 40 percent. They now offer the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program, which loans homeowners up to $10,000 to invest in weatherization.
Energy efficiency programs invested $42 million into energy projects, which was matched by $71 million in private funds. This private-public partnership has lowered energy costs and has helped to create quality jobs.
While these programs have proven to be successful and gained Maine a national reputation and millions of federal dollars for these programs, the governor has submitted legislation to undercut the Efficiency Maine Trust. He would like to upend bipartisan energy policy that is proven to work in favor of less cost effective programs that benefit special interests.
Maine is a proven national leader in energy efficiency and alternative energy. We need to build on that reputation -- not scare off potential business investors who are looking to see consistency in the state’s energy policy.
As a member of the State Legislature’s Committee on Energy, Utilities and Technology I’ve worked with Republicans and Democrats to pursue these energy policies, which continue to make Maine more energy secure while creating quality jobs.
We should stand by our successful efficiency policies so our clean energy economy can continue to grow, the people of Maine can become more energy secure and save hard earned funds.
Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx represents part of Brunswick in the Maine House of Representatives. He joined the Marine Reserves in 2002 and served in Iraq in 2006. He currently works with the Truman National Security Project on national security and energy issues and serves as an officer in the Navy reserves.