Why do we spend so much time touting the benefits of natural gas investment? The two gas companies expanding service to the Kennebec Valley are investing hundreds of millions of dollars for a strip of users along a narrow, single expansion area in the Kennebec Valley.

That investment, of course, does not belong to the natural gas companies. The money comes from banks loaning money. In other words, that money exists in banks to be loaned, and the choice was made to loan it out to natural gas companies.

What if we envisioned that same money being used in another way? What if we took $300 million and used it for every occupied housing unit in the entire state of Maine? Yes, all 555,000 of them. Each housing unit would receive $540 for insulation or solar panels or whatever the occupant wanted to do to reduce energy costs (which is the single most-used argument for natural gas).

What if we wanted a little more bang for our buck, and only provided the money for occupied housing units constructed before 1980? Each of those 435,000 units would receive $690 for energy use reduction. Can you imagine the local statewide employment boom that would create? Can you imagine the statewide energy use reduction that would create? In other words, is it better to help 500,000 homeowners or 500 businesses?

MacGregor Stocco, Belgrade

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