Maine’s Energy Choices: A Critical Factor in our Future Prosperity

As part of Sustain Southern Maine’s Capacity Building efforts, Dr. Charles Colgan and his students, together with staff from the Greater Portland Council of Governments, looked at current energy use in southern Maine and explored ways to make the region more sustainable in its energy use.

Over the past year, Dr. Charles Colgan, professor of Public Policy and Management at the Muskie School, has been researching the question of how a small urban region like Greater Portland consumes energy – and the most effective strategies for making that usage more sustainable over time.

The presentations here did not attempt to come to any conclusions as to next steps; instead the students sought to identify actions already underway in the region and present ideas from other places to stimulate discussion about future actions, at both the local and regional level.

The event was held Monday, December 10 from 3-5 pm at Lee Hall at USM’s Wishcamper Center in Portland

A written summary of this session is available here, or you may chose to listen to a recording of the presentations and audience discussion below.


Ben Lake, Energy and transit Program Analyst at the Greater Portland Council of Governments Presented an Overview of the Cumberland County Emissions Inventory.



Charlie Colgan, professor of Public Policy and Management at the Muskie School introduced the components of the topic of energy in Maine and introduced the team of students.  Nancy Varin reviewed the state of large scale electricity production in Maine and New England.



Caitlin Gerber discussed small scale, local production of energy through renewable resources. She presented several examples of these projects from around Maine.



Abe Dailey discussed the issues of energy as it applies to buildings.  He reviewed the need for increased efficiency not just in new structures but in existing ones and takes a look at the financial incentives offered by the state to increase building efficiency.



Daniel Bishop and Bryan Hill discussed the issues in transportation energy use.  They review the technical advances that are making cars more efficient and examine the potential for transit in Southern Maine. Charlie Colgan then presented a review of the topic tying together the student presentations.



At the end of the session the audience was invited to engage in discussion with the panel of speakers.