The following opinion piece was submitted by the Office of Gov. Janet Mills.
While my home remains in Farmington, Maine, as Governor it is my honor and privilege to reside at the Blaine House – as governors before me have done since 1919.
The Blaine House is a living tribute to our state. It is owned by the people of Maine and it is faithfully maintained and has been modernized by stewards for generations.
For more than 100 years the Blaine House has welcomed world leaders in search of guidance, including President John F. Kennedy, Ulysses S. Grant, Teddy Roosevelt, William Tecumseh Sherman, Margaret Chase Smith, Andrew Wyeth, Amelia Earhart, and even heavyweight champion Jack Dempsey.
Well this week we honored that legacy and took another step towards leadership by unveiling 61 new solar panels on the Blaine House garage and the grounds- leading the way towards a clean energy future for Maine.
The solar panels, installed by Maine company Revision Energy, will supply 26,000 kilowatt hours per year of clean, renewable electricity – enough to cover at least 25 percent of the Blaine House’s electrical needs.
These panels are expected to eliminate large amounts of carbon pollution each year, about the equivalent of not burning 43 barrels of oil.
43 barrels of oil is a lot.
When I talk about Maine people sending $5 billion out-of-state every year to pay for fossil fuel, that is exactly what I am talking about.
Whether it is heating the Blaine House or heating your house, filling up a state-owned car or your car, the big, out-of-state fossil fuel companies have too tight a grip on Maine people. They’re always forcing us to dig deeper, to buy oil or gas that harms our pocketbooks, our health, our air and our environment.
Enough is enough.
So, while these panels will have a substantial impact on the efficiency of the Blaine House, we view them as only a start for state government.
Maine is ready to lead.
That’s why I also signed an Executive Order this week directing Maine State Government to lead by example in pursuing energy efficiency, renewable energy, and sustainability.
It only makes sense that, as one of the largest consumers in Maine, our state government should be a role model in reducing energy use, embracing sources of renewables, curbing carbon pollution and recycling and reducing solid waste – all of which will lower operating costs at the same time.
This Executive Order directs state agencies to meet or exceed the state’s renewable energy and greenhouse gas reduction targets. The goals for our state as a whole should also be goals for state government, and we will do our part to meet them.
First and foremost, we will prioritize energy efficiency whenever we upgrade state buildings.
We will pursue renewable energy generation and energy storage on state property whenever possible, and if not possible, we will purchase our energy from low-carbon sources.
We will add more electric vehicles when replacing old vehicles in the state fleet and we’ll install more electric vehicle charging stations at public facilities so that employees can charge their cars while they work.
We will conserve energy and water and minimize waste and packaging.
We will lead by example on the path to a cleaner, greener future and create green-collar jobs at the same time.
Now, not every person in Maine needs to install 61 solar panels to make a difference. I ask you to think about small, affordable changes you can make - from changing lightbulbs, tightening up doors and windows, insulating your basement or attic - keeping more money in your pocket and protecting our environment at the same time.
As this residence greeted leaders of the past, now the Blaine House greets a new generation of leaders in a manner that strengthens our economy, and protects the irreplaceable and beautiful state and natural resources which we share and care for.