AUGUSTA, Maine — Former Gov. Angus King shared one of his favorite quotes with an appreciative crowd Friday afternoon at the GrowSmart Maine Summit.
“‘The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate for the stormy present,’” he said, rolling the words off his tongue with gusto. “‘We must rise for the occasion. … We must disenthrall ourselves and then we will save our country.’”
King was repeating the words of Abraham Lincoln from an address made to Congress during the Civil War and one month before the president signed the Emancipation Proclamation.
The former governor and wind energy expert thinks those words apply today to the nation’s energy crisis and addiction to oil. He told the crowd that 10 years ago, Mainers spent 4 percent of their annual income on energy. Today, it’s nearly 20 percent.
“We must disenthrall ourselves,” King repeated. “It’ll take some risk. … We’ll have to have the point of view that yes, we can solve these problems.”
Ideas for solving the problem weren’t in short supply at the session on green energy in Maine. Suggestions ranged from tidal to nuclear to wind power and even careened into the territory of hydrogen.
People spoke boldly and seemed excited about the notion of Maine being an energy exporter and an industry leader, putting the “I lead” back into the state motto.
“This is the next huge opportunity,” King said. “For wind, for geothermal, for conservation, we have an opportunity to lead the country.”
Some ideas seemed fairly simple to implement, such as jump-starting an industry or making existing homes energy-efficient. Attendees learned that replacing old windows with airtight vinyl models is the least cost-effective way to improve efficiency. Finding the gaps where heat escapes is the most effective way.
When Rob Hall of Stockton Springs said there’s no reason the state can’t teach technical school students to learn that skill, he was met with applause.
“Everything we’ve talked about today is doable,” he said later. “It’s not that hard to figure out. There’s no reason why we’re not doing it. Except that there’s a lack of political will.”