Energy is an important focus for the region due to the high costs of living and doing business related to energy expenditures. Citizens and businesses alike spend large shares of their income on transportation and heating. To address the issue Sustain Southern Maine began by expanding and updating the 2007 Cumberland County Energy Use and Emissions Inventory to include York County and current data creating the Cumberland and York Counties, Maine 2010 Energy Use and Emissions Inventory. The inventory provides a baseline for the region in terms of energy use and related emissions.
Simultaneously, the 2011 Cumberland County Climate Change and Energy Plan was reviewed and used as the starting point for identifying strategies and actions to achieve energy efficiencies and savings to residents, businesses, and municipalities. The County plan had taken 2 years to complete and involved hundreds of citizens, energy experts, and other interested stakeholders. It yielded 198 recommendations, however the plan did not include an order of priority for implementing the recommendations or an analysis of projected impacts of any of the recommendations.
Energy experts who had participated in developing the County plan convened to identify top priority strategies and actions from the 198 recommendations. Additionally, a qualitative and quantitative assessment summary of each of the top 24 recommendations was performed. Using the assessments stakeholders narrowed and refined the recommendations down to 14 priority strategies and actions. This process, the assessments, and some implementation research are covered in more detail in the Energy Policy Prioritization Report.
Additionally in response to housing and business energy expenses, a Housing Efficiency Report and Mobilize Maine Energy Action Team were both developed. The Housing Efficiency Report provides information on programs available to homeowners to assist with energy efficiency; and the Mobilize Maine Energy Action Team works to implement projects to reduce business energy costs.
Finally, in December of 2012 to further raise awareness of the region’s energy use and related emissions, a Maine’s Energy Choices: A Critical Factor In Our Future Prosperity Knowledge Sharing session was also held.
Cooperative Energy: How Does It Work In Maine? by Karen Purinton, graduate student, Muskie School of Public Service/University of Southern Maine
Natural Gas Expansion in Maine by Carolyn Ezzy, graduate student, Muskie School of Public Service/University of Southern Maine