Jim Wellehan

The Maine Climate Council released its plan to achieve an 80% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030. It may sound like an ambitious plan, but one that Maine – and the world – will have a very damaged and difficult future without; a world that you would not want to inflict on your children and grandchildren.

As both an individual and a business owner, I have worked to cut carbon emissions since the Copenhagen Conference in 2009, committing to cutting our carbon emissions 50% in 10 years. It was an ambitious goal, but fun to work to achieve. We moved to LED bulbs in most applications, Low E windows in every remodel, vestibule entrances to provide an extra door, heavier insulation, including two R-50 roofs, lower temperature settings in the winter, and higher in the summer, signing up for clean energy providers, and having all company vehicles be either hybrid or designed to cut exhaust pollution dramatically.

It was, among other things, a great learning experience. While it was not an inexpensive project, at the end of the project our cost of energy as a percent of sales was half what it had been 10 years earlier. Cutting costs goes with cutting carbon.

The governor’s carbon plan has also stimulated the Lewiston-Auburn Chamber of Commerce to get even more involved. It is planning to collaborate with the environmental faculty at Bates College, in order to have its students available to check on local businesses to take steps to cut their carbon emissions and costs.

As the group setting up this program discussed it, the point was clear that while some businesses like Geiger had been able to develop intensely environmentally sound energy programs, many businesses were five- to 10-person operations, and the CEOs were so stretched in multi-tasking on many issues that they could not reasonably fully understand or execute the most effective way to cut carbon.

The Bates students will be taught exactly how to navigate this process, and will work with Efficiency Maine, and perhaps the Maine Climate Council. All of us in Maine will be working assiduously to make our homes, businesses, cars and lives more energy efficient, and will be delighted by the results that this will bring. This will enable Maine to survive with winters that will undoubtedly be warmer, but hopefully skiing and snowshoeing, Maine maple syrup and Maine lobsters will survive and continue.

We must all work to reduce carbon emissions, and the good news is that while it will not be inexpensive, it will be much less expensive than the damage inflicted by not reducing carbon, and a way for Mainers to save money.

The sun does not always shine, and the wind does not always blow. We must maintain energy throughout our days and nights, and energy storage will be critical. New techniques are under constant development, but until they are fully invented, developed, and made broadly available, Maine is lucky to have the Clean Energy Corridor, bringing storable energy to Massachusetts, to be shared with Maine, as well as CMP’s economic contribution to the Climate Council’s plans.

For their work, thanks go out to the LA Metro Chamber and committee members Shanna Cox, Gene Geiger and Chip Morrison, as well as to Bates Professor of Environmental Studies Tom Twist.

Jim Wellehan is president of Lamey-Wellehan. He lives in Auburn.

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