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Kim Boucher of Bangor works in health care fundraising.
Seventeen years seems like an awfully long time. But as the mom of an 11, 6 and 3 year old, I know that though that length of time will sometimes feel interminable, it will surely pass by in a blink of an eye.
Gov. Janet Mills’ recent announcement of a bold new clean-energy goal to require all of Maine’s electricity to come from renewables by 2040 prioritizes exactly the measures we need to take as a state to make meaningful changes for our climate in that time frame. As I think about the future for my kids and yours, this accelerated goal is exactly the type of decisive action Maine needs.
Climate change is already affecting our state, and high electricity and home heating costs are putting immense economic strain on Maine families. Stepping away from dirty fossil fuels is the right move to protect Maine’s environment and public health, lower energy costs and increase energy independence.
Recognizing this, in 2019 (when I was pregnant with my youngest) the Mills administration signed into law one of the most forward-looking renewable energy requirements in the country, increasing Maine’s Renewable Portfolio Standard from 40 percent to 80 percent by 2030 and setting a goal of 100 percent renewable energy by 2050. But in her State of the Budget address in February, Mills shaved 10 years off that timeline, accelerating one of our major climate goals.
Currently, 48 percent of Maine’s electricity comes from renewable sources. That is expected to climb to 53 percent by the end of 2024. An independent study shows Maine is on track to meet its goal of using 80 percent renewable sources for our electricity needs by 2030, the most ambitious target of any New England state.
Now our 2040 pledge means that Maine isn’t just meeting our goals, we’re surpassing them. Quite literally, like the title of the state’s four-year climate action plan, Maine Won’t Wait.
Since its introduction in December 2020, Maine Won’t Wait has created historic momentum for reducing emissions, advancing clean energy, and protecting Maine’s infrastructure and environment from the harms of climate change. We’ve made considerable progress toward a clean energy economy that supports real-world usage of affordable technologies like offshore wind, distributed generation and energy storage. For our household, that means installing solar panels and the hope of an electric vehicle in the not too distant future.
This embrace of clean energy has also been reflected in the record growth of electric vehicles, public electric vehicle charging stations and installations of high efficiency heat pumps in Maine, all of which directly address our state’s leading causes of greenhouse gas emissions.
On the national level, the affordable clean energy plan (aka the federal Inflation Reduction Act) is delivering unprecedented support for climate and resilience priorities, including some two dozen tax provisions that will save families like mine money on their energy bills and accelerate the deployment of clean energy, clean vehicles, clean buildings and clean manufacturing — all while helping Maine hit our accelerated 2040 goal.
Ultimately, this transition to clean energy will not only help reduce carbon emissions, but is also creating new job opportunities, stimulating local economic growth and increasing energy security. Investments in climate-friendly buildings, energy efficiency, renewable energy and other innovative technology and products in the years to come will only grow. To me, that means in 17 years, when my youngest is turning 20, they will have even more opportunities to stay here in Maine and earn a good living, while also doing good for our planet.
One never knows what the future may hold, and there are significant challenges ahead in the global work to mitigate climate change, but I’m grateful for the vision and leadership here in Maine. For my family and yours, let’s keep up the momentum and secure a more sustainable and equitable future for Maine and beyond.