A solar executive of a leading national clean energy company praised Maine’s renewable energy efforts and steps toward fighting climate change during a trip to Portland.
Mary Powell, CEO of Sunrun, a San Francisco-based multibillion-dollar clean energy company, said that Gov. Janet Mills’ climate goals are “100 percent achievable.” Mills’ goals include reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 45 percent by 2030 and having 219,000 electric passenger vehicles on the road by 2030.
LATEST MAINE NEWS
“The technology exists. It’s actually just the will, the courage and the innovation to do it fast and affordably,” Powell said.
Powell has been involved in New England clean energy efforts for decades, and now leads one of the largest solar power companies in the U.S. Her comments come as climate change gains increasing notice amid worldwide record-high summer temperatures.
The CEO appeared with Mills, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson and New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy in Portland on July 13 as part of a presentation at the National Governors Association annual summer meeting about the company’s partnership with Ford on the 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning electric car.
An electric truck, the Ford vehicle can use solar power as fuel and can also be a backup generator for a home in a power outage. The company is working with three local companies in Maine to bring the electric truck to the state, she said.
Powell, a graduate of Keene State College in New Hampshire, spent two decades working for Green Mountain Power in the Burlington area.
She sees Maine as going in the right direction with solar energy.
“Maine has pledged to slash greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent below 1990 levels,” Powell said. “A huge part of that is going to be much greater adoption of energy independence, clean solar energy.”
A big part of slashing such emissions is the number of emissions that come from cars. Mills also wants to transition state agencies to 100 percent clean power by 2024.
A plan to purchase all-electric vehicles for the state fleet is a few more years off — that’s anticipated in 2030.
Alternative energy programs have become much more important in the face of the climate crisis, Powell noted. Being a largely coastal state, Maine is particularly susceptible to such effects, from rising sea levels to increased tick-borne illnesses, especially because 56 percent of the population lives in coastal counties according to the 2020 U.S. Census.
The increased geopolitical problems that have come with the oil market are also an impetus for the shift, she said. Though prices have lowered in recent weeks, they have risen significantly since Russia invaded Ukraine in February.
Powell’s time in Vermont had shown her that clean energy was something that rural communities like those in Maine could pioneer as well, noting that many of the socioeconomic impacts of energy costs and outages often impact those sections of the country the worst.
“This is going to be a clean energy revolution driven by rural America to urban America,” Powell said.