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Mission of the York Energy Efficiency Committee

Our mission is to respond to the global warming crisis by promoting energy efficiency, alternative energy, and environmental initiatives throughout the town of York, Maine.

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[Source: The US Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE)]

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Innovators in Maine Have Plans to Power the Entire State with Offshore Wind

An article in the conservative Forbes magazine website maintains that our country does not have to “accept dirtier and dirtier and riskier and riskier solutions to fulfilling  our energy needs.”

What are we waiting for to get to the really innovative ideas? There must be solutions with less severe tradeoffs than shale gas and tar sands oil. Why lock ourselves in to processes that will only get dirtier, riskier and more expensive over time rather than ones that will build sustainable equity and reduce long-term energy costs—and environmental impacts. Why continue to procrastinating the inevitable?

I met a man in Portland, Maine, this summer who’s not waiting around to find out. Dr. Habib Dagher is founding Director of the Advanced Structures & Composites Center, a National Science Foundation funded research Center based at the University of Maine, Orono. Habib was in Portland to deliver a talk at our own homegrown TED conference, TEDxDirigo. Among the 125 R&D projects he has conducted in his 25 years at the Center, the most exciting is a plan to deploy huge offshore wind farms in the deep waters of the Gulf of Maine the could power the entire State by 2030—with an equal amount of energy left over to sell to our neighbors. That plan was the subject of his talk that day.

Dagher lays out the economic argument first. At $4 a gallon for gasoline, $5 Billion leaves the State of Maine every year. Our entire state budget is only $3.1 Billion. In 1998, energy represented 5% an average Maine family’s budget. Ten years later it was up to 20% and by 2018 he predicts it will consume 40% of an average family’s budget. Even without pricing in global warming or sea level rise, this is a shocking—and unsustainable—number.

What is the greatest opportunity to replace fossil fuels in this country? According to Habib, it’s offshore wind. One of his slides shows a map of wind energy in the United States and the largest concentration is off the far northeast coast. He has calculated that there are 149 gigawatts of wind within 50 nautical miles of the coast of Maine. That’s the equivalent of 149 nuclear power plants—with no risk of meltdowns!

The really interesting thing is that Maine turns out to be in a sweet spot for wind energy. We are far enough up the coast to be out of range of hurricanes, but close enough to the urban centers of the northeast, where 18% of the U.S. population lives, for there to be an efficient market for the excess energy we can produce. Dagher says, “there’s an opportunity for us to not only take care of ourselves, but create electrons in Maine and sell them, just like we sell paper and lobsters.”

Read the rest of the story.

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