Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Thinking about Maine's energy mix

While younger readers may prefer to get their news about Maine, and elsewhere, via their computer screens, I’m old enough to where I still appreciate radio news. Some of my favorite programs are John McDonald’s weekend programs, on WGAN, and MPBN's Monday through Friday, Maine Things Considered segments.

Many recent local broadcasts have been focused on energy issues, as the price of gasoline has approached, and surpassed, the $4/gallon threshold.

It’s interesting how quickly Mainers have gone from not paying any attention to the price of oil, to where it now leads most television news segments on the state’s big three news outlets, WCSH-6, WMTW, and WGME 13.

On Saturday, the Governor spoke about energy, in his weekly radio address. He took note that despite the warmer temperatures outside, with the long-awaited approach of summer that $4.60/gallon oil prices don’t bode well for many of the state’s residents, this coming winter.

He’s convened a pre-emergency task force to ensure that Maine is prepared for the cold days of winter. Rather than wait until there is a statewide emergency, he’s thinking of solutions right now.

He also addressed the important topic of reducing our dependence as a state, on foreign oil. He spoke about alternatives to oil, such as wind power, hydroelectric, as well as tidal, and wood, as the type of mix he wants Maine to move towards.

Later, on Barbara Merrill’s program, on WGAN, he even mentioned nuclear as an option that Maine might need to consider, as it seeks alternatives to petroleum.

I think Governor Baldacci is on to something. He obviously wants any alternative to directly benefit the people of Maine. He also seemed to touch on something that I think we all need to think about—developing our own regional energy options.

The U.S. is too large, and too diverse a nation to have one national solution to weaning ourselves off foreign oil. A strategy focused on the needs of Northern New England is what I hope he has in mind, as we move forward.

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