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This is Governor John Baldacci.

You know, I’ve been involved in politics for more than 30 years – as a city councilor, a State Senator, a member of Congress and finally as Governor.

During that time, I’ve seen Maine face its share of good times and bad, of war and of peace, stability and uncertainty.

I can’t remember a time in all those years where you could pick up the newspaper or turn on the evening news on any given day and be greeted with such wild swings in the nation’s mood and economic conditions.

Just this week, the stock market has moved up and down like a spider on a web.

One day, the massive federal bailout appears to have calmed the jittery nerves of Wall Street and the very next, we’re all afraid to look at a statement on our retirement accounts.

More and more people feel uncertain about their jobs, and the price of gasoline and heating oil leaves too many families still wondering how they’ll pay the bills to stay warm this winter.

To make sure Mainers are as ready as possible for this winter, we have done a number of things to make sure people have the resources to stay warm and safe in their homes.

In addition to new money from the federal government, my Administration has set aside state resources to help families struggling to make ends meet to pay for their heating oil.

We are helping more families weatherize their homes so they burn less oil and are working cooperatively with local oil companies to make sure low-income families can get their furnace or boiler repaired.

We’ve increased training opportunities for people interested in becoming energy auditors or installers, so that the marketplace can meet the new demands of people seeking to make their homes more efficient.

We’re holding classes and broadcasting training so that homeowners can learn to do the simple things that can make a real difference on heating bills.

Low-interest loans are available from the Maine State Housing Authority and the Finance Authority of Maine to help middle-class families and businesses invest in energy improvements. Using less energy, saving more dollars.

We’ve distributed thousands of Keep ME Warm brochures that include handy tips on ways to reduce energy consumption.

And on Oct. 25, we will be distributing 2,000 Keep ME Warm Kits to low-income families. With these kits include tools that help them to reduce a family’s energy consumption.

There’s a tremendous amount being done to prepare for this winter. We can’t wait for the snow to start flying to get ready.

Local groups are organizing to make a difference in their communities and neighborhoods. They’re raising money to take care of neighbors, volunteering to help with home improvements and making plans to check on elder friends and those who might need a little extra help this winter.

Nobody knows how high energy prices will be this winter. Recently, they’ve come down a bit. But it’s hard to call $3.20 a gallon for gasoline a bargain or to think we’re out of the woods because home heating oil isn’t at $4 dollars a gallon.

With all the work we’ve done and the decline in prices, we are better off today than we were a few months ago in terms of the price of oil and gas, but at the same time, our economy has slowed – throwing people out of work and reducing the work schedules on a lot of other people.

So we are not out of the woods.

Together, we will be able to get through this winter.

And come spring, we will get relief from cold wind and snow.

And I believe that we will have a new energy policy that will not only make us more energy independent on foreign sources, but it will put Maine on the path to a new, more secure energy future, and a sounder economic foundation.

I’m still putting together the details of a plan that will help break the grip of foreign oil on Maine’s economy and on Maine’s people.

But I will tell you this.

Our plan will help to make homes more efficient and better able to withstand winter’s cold grasp.

And it will reduce our dependency on oil.

It will put us on the path to a greener, healthier, renewable energy.

You know, I remember gas lines and too much oil dependency, and its impact that it’s had on businesses and lives and family and friends.

But despite those hard lessons of the past, we have allowed ourselves to be lulled into a false sense of security. We eagerly believed that energy – and particularly oil – would remain abundant and cheap.

We liked things the way they were, and there were plenty of reasons to put off change.

But no more.

So as we build the plans that will move Maine forward, there’s no doubt that we are going to be faced with tough choices and controversial decisions.

But working together as Mainers, I know we can find the answers to work not only for our State, but our nation.

And we must not let the momentum for change which has built over the last year be lost. We cannot afford to let things stay like they have been.

Now is the time to be bold.

Thank you and have a good weekend.

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