After signing an executive order on Nov. 26, installation of solar panels at the Blaine House, the official place of residence for Maine’s Gov. Janet Mills, has commenced. The project resulted in the installation of 61 new solar panels on the Blaine House property, in an effort to introduce more sources of renewable energy in the state capital.
The project has been in the works for months, as Mills included plans to forge ahead with introducing renewable energy sources in her inaugural address, given in January of 2019. Last month, Mills used the project as a backdrop to announce an executive order which directs state agencies to develop a sustainability plan by February of 2021, in order to meet accelerated carbon reduction goals. The project to install solar panels will cost an estimated $63,000, but Lindsay Crete, Mills’ press secretary, noted that the panels will provide enough power to cover roughly 25% of the Blaine House’s electricity needs.
“The project has already offset more than 1,400 pounds of carbon emissions, [which is] equal to planting 36 trees. Although the Blaine House isn’t heated with oil, the panels will annually offset the equivalent of burning 43 barrels, or 1,806 gallons of oil, with clean renewable energy,” Crete said.
The project is funded and made possible by the cooperation between state officials and ReVision Energy of Portland. ReVision Energy is the state’s largest solar installer and was the only company to come forward with interest in working on the Blaine House solar project. Maine has a small array of solar energy companies, and they struggled in the past years under the policies of former Gov. Paul LePage. Since Mills has been in office, she has pledged to boost Maine’s renewable energy economy and has worked with in-state companies in order to promote the growth of the solar industry in Maine.
Fortunat Mueller, the co-founder of ReVision Energy, noted that the project isn’t about making money for the industry or the company.
“It’s not a moneymaker,” Mueller said. “The value of the project for us, and for the state, is the visible demonstration of leadership by the governor, which we are grateful for.”
While the project is not making money for the state, it is an important step in the right direction for Maine’s environmentally conscious government. Throughout her campaign and since taking office, Mills has pledged to work to protect Maine’s environment and embrace a future where clean energy is accessible. In her past as a legislator, Mills voted in favor of clean air and clean water acts. In June of 2019, she signed a bill into law that established Maine’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 45% in 2030 and by 80% in 2050. The law also called for an increase in Maine’s Renewable Portfolio Standard from 40% today to 80% in 2030. She also implemented the Maine Climate Council, which is a board of representatives from across Maine from various academic and professional backgrounds who work to establish ways that Maine can improve their environmental policies.
“When all these factors — the reduced consumption of and reliance on fossil fuels, the increased consumption of homegrown clean renewable energy and, additionally, the very real demonstration of Maine’s long-overdue embrace of renewable energy — are taken into consideration, the state is satisfied with this project and believes it is a sensitive, forward-looking investment that moves Maine in the right direction,” Crete said.