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This is Governor John Baldacci.

I know it’s a beautiful, sunny day and temperatures are climbing to summer heights already. It’s unusual to be thinking about Maine’s long winter season and our heating needs.

But if our country’s current energy crisis has shown us anything, we can not afford to take the short view. We must begin looking ahead and preparing now.

This week, the average price for heating oil in Maine hit $4.60 a gallon. That’s the average. In a lot of places, the price has spiked to $4.80.

Nobody can predict for certain what the cost will look like next winter, but we can’t wait to find out.

Here’s what’s for certain: We will ensure that we don’t allow our people to be put into danger because they can’t afford heating oil for their houses. We’ll do what’s necessary to protect public safety and welfare.

That’s our top priority, but it’s not our only one.

Everyone is feeling the energy pinch. It’s created a real hardship for Maine businesses and hard working families.

I have already convened a pre-emergency task force to make sure we are prepared now, and to put us in a position to identify and enact solutions now.

My goal is to put Maine on the path to a more secure and independent energy future.

But we all must be more proactive and take steps to reduce our dependence on costly foreign oil and protect our economy from price spikes beyond our control.

Individually, we have the power to make those changes and reduce our reliance on oil and gas.

We can make our houses and businesses more energy efficient.

Already, we have put into place innovative programs to help homeowners, truck drivers, businesses and families reduce their energy consumption.

The Maine State Housing Authority has low-interest loans at 3.5 percent, up to $30,000, to make their homes weatherized, more energy efficient, or to switch to more efficient and less-costly fuels.

The Finance Authority of Maine can help businesses improve their energy efficiency, and Efficiency Maine at the Public Utilities Commission can help you reduce your electricity consumption.

Please contact www.maine.gov, call my office at 287-3531. 287-3531. Please start to take charge. Individually we can, and have the power to make changes to reduce our reliance on oil and gas and we can make our houses and businesses more energy efficient.

And at the same time, we know that we need leadership at the national level, but we can’t wait for relief to come to us; we must grab hold of our own destiny.

Our energy situation is serious, but it is not without hope.

There are things we can do as a State, and there are things we can do individually.

Maine has abundant natural resources, and we must put them to work. Maine’s early economy was built from our woods, and rivers and seas.

And just this week I was with Horizon Energy Company in Presque Isle, Maine, where they are proposing $1.2 billion of wind power projects and that is just the tip of the iceberg.

We hope to be able to see more wind power, more hydro and tidal, more wood, and more renewable energy resources applied to our energy grid.

We are going to begin to return to our roots, in applying new technologies to harness our natural resources in a way that is efficient, clean and renewable.

And we are going to be aggressive and innovative as we seek ways to replace fossil fuels and develop these home-grown sources of energy.

But like the entire country, Maine is hurting from high energy prices. We can find our way through to the other side of this crisis. And when we do, we’ll have more energy security, a cleaner environment and a stronger economy.

Thank you all, and especially to those dads out there, Happy Father’s Day. And all of you, have a very good weekend.

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