We Can Get There From Here: Maine Energy Efficiency Ballot Initiative

Sean Mahoney | @SeanCLF

Maine has a new motto: We can get there from here.

As Washington has failed to advance clean energy legislation, and Governor LePage has expressed open hostility to the state’s renewable portfolio standards (RPS), I am reminded of that famous quip from Bert and I: “You can’t get they-ah from he-ah.” For Mainers concerned about Maine’s dependence on expensive, dirty fuels, and sincere in their interest in building a sustainable economy for the years to come, this quip has become a frustrating reality – a reality we can change, with your help.

CLF is a part of a coalition of groups from the private and nonprofit sectors, the Maine Citizens For Clean Energy, www.cleaneenergymaine.org,  that is working to enact a law by public referendum that would increase the amount of renewable energy generated in the state and increase our ability to implement energy efficiency measures that would reduce our reliance on oil and other fossil fuels, saving us money and helping our environment at the same time.

To do this, we need to get the referendum  on the ballot for state-wide vote in November 2012 by gathering more than 70,000 signatures from Maine voters by January 2012. The signs are strong: we have met with considerable early success, are ahead of our goals, and see evidence of strong support from Maine residents.

This year, on November 8th, 28,000 Maine voters registered their interest in putting a citizen’s initiative on next year’s ballot to expand clean energy in Maine. The coalition, as Environment Maine said in their press release, had set a goal of 20,000 only two weeks before. In our current effort to collect 70,000 signatures, we are well ahead of our goals.

This should not be surprising, as polls of Maine residents have consistently shown strong support for energy efficiency. One poll, conducted by NRDC, showed “Nearly 80% of voters back the use and expansion of energy efficiency technologies.” Another, conducted by Portland-based Critical Insights and discussed by NRCM, “shows that Maine voters overwhelming oppose specific environmental rollback proposals now before the Maine Legislature.”

Groups in Maine have heard and are working to promote the interest of Maine voters. Already, CLF is working with a coalition of Maine businesses, workers, health professionals, citizens and public interest groups. We are joined by – Reed & Reed, general contractor, NRCM, and the Maine Renewable Energy Association, among others.

The message Maine voters have delivered so far is clear: We can get there from here.  We need your help.  Please sign a petition supporting the referendum or better yet, volunteer to gather signatures in your community.

This ballot initiative comes at a crucial time and allows for a broad discussion by the people of Maine as to the value of renewable and energy efficiency. If successful, the ballot measure would require that the current RPS be increased by 20 percent by 2020 and would ensure adequate funding from utilities for all cost-effective efficiency measures.

If you’d like to help ensure the passage of this ballot initiative, you can do two things.

First, help us gather signatures. If you haven’t signed the petition, please do so now.

And, secondly, if you’re willing to volunteer – more than willing to provide you with all you’ll need. Simply get in touch with us here at our Portland, Maine, office.

Help us, and our broad coalition, to deliver to Maine what voters want: expanded energy efficiency and, with it, a clean, clear path forward.

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