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This is Governor John Baldacci.

After what seems like endless weeks of rain, summertime appears to have finally arrived in Maine.

The sun is shining, temperatures are rising and people are swimming and canoeing in rivers and lakes throughout our State.

But just as we know the weather will eventually turn warm every summer, we also know that colder temperatures are inevitable and will return before we know it.

We also know that the price of oil is just as unstable today as it was last year.

Now, right now things appear to be better with oil selling for $2.25 a gallon statewide and a barrel of oil is hovering for around $60 dollars.

Last year at this time, oil was selling for $145 dollars a barrel.

While oil prices are considerably lower than they were last year, it does not mean that there is stability in the prices.

This type of uncertainty puts an unnecessary and undefined burden on the backs of Mainers – and frankly we are fed up with that.

Last month I signed legislation that outlined very aggressive goals to reduce our State’s dependency on foreign fuels.

One of the major components of that legislation was the establishment of the Efficiency Maine Trust and Board. The idea is to finally bring together our energy rebate, efficiency and conservation programs under one roof to better serve the people of Maine.

This will create a “one-stop shop” for Maine consumers looking for help with all of their energy efficiency needs.

Earlier this week, I nominated seven people with strong understandings of our goals and objectives to serve on this Board.

The Board will not only be tasked with coordinating these programs, but they will also oversee the distribution of money for energy efficiency and alternative energy projects.

Among the goals put forth in the energy legislation I signed last month was to weatherize all residences and 50 percent of our businesses by the year 2030.

Mainers can save an average of 5-10 percent on heating bills through weatherization projects. Older homes were not built with proper weatherization in mind. Improperly insulated areas, foundation holes, attic holes and gaps in windows and doors are common in older homes – and in some newer homes. So as a result, energy – and money – is lost without these efforts.

There are low-cost, do-it-yourself energy saving tips available on the State’s Web site – maine.gov.

In addition to focusing on weatherization for winter, the State of Maine is also working on a long-term vision of providing an alternative to foreign oil.

Maine is in a unique position in that we are a potential hub for renewable forms of energy with our water, wind, wood and solar. Our natural resources are ripe for energy production and harnessing that energy can build private sector jobs and boost our economy.

Maine is New England’s leader in developing its vast land-based wind resource. This State already has 300 megawatts currently operating or under construction and another 450 megawatts in various stages of development.

Danforth, Maine, in Washington County, is home to the largest wind farm in New England.

But there is even more wind potential off the coast of Maine – an estimated 100 gigawatts, which is about 40 nuclear power plants. That is enough to power all of New England with some to spare.

So we need to harness this energy and we need to do it now.

This is an opportunity that is presenting itself – we cannot sit idly by and watch others take advantage of it. We are risking too much if we continue along our current path of oil use.

Maine families use 90 percent of their energy budget to heat their homes and operate motor vehicles. Our State alone exports billions of dollars every year to pay for heat and motor fuel. So we have an opportunity to keep more of that money here in Maine using existing renewable resources and most importantly, putting Maine people to work in the process.

We live in Maine for many reasons. We have the best people, wonderful natural resources, and most of us love every one of those four seasons – some stay a little bit longer than others.

But summertime is here and with it warm temperatures.

But as Mainers, we always have an eye toward the future. And while we can enjoy the summer and all that comes with it, we need to keep our eye toward the winter. And not just this winter, but winters down the road.

It is clear that Maine people are fed up with paying outrageous oil prices. We have a chance to change that – both for ourselves, our homes, but together as a State and for the entire region.

Change is never easy but it is time for us to act. And acting together, a seemingly insurmountable challenge can quickly become a realistic achievement.

In the meantime, enjoy the summer in Maine while it’s here

Thank you for listening – and I hope you have a great weekend.

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