Lots of media and government attention finally is being paid to Maine’s dependence on oil.

I have few suggestions about how to bring about change. With LIHEAP funds questionable now and in the future, let’s be proactive. The state can bond $15million-$20 million for pellet stoves, solar heaters, etc., along with oil and pellets to be managed by each town. The bond can be repaid over five to 10 years from a $5 or $6 annual surcharge on every property tax bill sent out in the state.

Just giving people fuel doesn’t solve the problem. Investment in alternative heat sources must go along with fuel subsidies; not a handout, but a hand up.

Next, the state can bond enough to convert state, municipal buildings and schools to alternative sources of heat. The energy savings alone will nearly pay off the bonds. Look at what the city of Augusta is contemplating and what other towns in the area have already done. Stop talking and start doing.

Additionally, all new home mortgagees should be allowed to add $10,000-$15,000 to their home loan for alternative heat sources and weatherization.

The monthly payment would be cheaper than adding a separate energy loan. Many don’t go after the energy loans that are available now because they can’t afford another monthly payment.

Reduced energy dependency and annual costs will get businesses and people to come to or stay in Maine.

Lastly, why would a prudent business person cut $10 million in Medicare expenses to lose $20 million in federal matching funds? Why not cut as little as possible and add a penny to the sales tax for two years to allow time to institute wise changes to minimize harm to those most in need.

I think the governor and Legislature should really govern.

 

Phillip Barter, Gardiner

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