A Changing Climate: How Municipal Government Can Be Part of the Solution – Our March Breakfast Forum!


SolarFreeportMaine’s municipalities can be the catalyst in creating community solutions to a changing climate. What are the legislative efforts a municipality can take? What are the community and local government efforts? Our panelists brought a range of examples of what is happening in Maine at the municipal level to reduce energy consumption, develop more renewable sources of energy and to adapt to a changing climate. We heard a municipal perspective on community bulk purchase of solar and what the implementation process for that might look like.

What can municipalities do to reduce energy consumption within town and city government? How can towns help encourage energy conservation and costs savings for businesses and residents? We learned what local governments across Maine who focus on energy challenges have done to develop local solutions, as well as new and existing efficiency programs and rebates in Maine, and how to best take advantage of them!

SolarBarnThese local and regional solutions are created at the municipal level and help Mainer’s achieve their goals for a more sustainable community.​ Maine currently spends about $5 billion a year on fossil fuels—including oil, natural gas, propane and gasoline, plus coal-fired electricity – almost $4,000 per year for every Maine citizen. None of this fuel is produced in Maine, and we have no control over its price. We can reduce exposure to price swings by using solar, wind, and renewable biomass for fuel. Moving to other fuels is also good for our economy.

Materials Presented:


Freeport Town Hall, 30 Main St, Freeport


Donna Larson — Town of Freeport & Solarize Freeport
Vaughan Woodruff — Insource Renewables/Solarize Freeport
Kimberly Darling & Larry Pritchett — Municipal Street Lighting Group
Dana Fischer — Efficiency Maine

Rachel Bouvier, rbouvier consulting


8-8:15am Networking and breakfast

8:20-8:45am, Solarize Freeport: A municipal perspective with Solarize & community bulk purchase. An installer perspective on the program implementation and process.

8:45-9:10am, Municipal Street Lighting Group: How much electricity is used in your community? How much power does local government consume? What tools and options do towns have to lower energy costs to taxpayers, improve municipal services, and lower carbon emissions?

For several years South Portland, Rockland, and Falmouth have worked together on municipal energy initiatives including a total overhaul of the state’s laws governing street lighting. We will touch on topics ranging from energy retrofits in a 1904 Carnegie Library to a municipal climate action plan to the potential for municipal community solar projects as examples of the many opportunities for municipalities to be leaders on energy.

9:10-9:35am, Efficiency Maine:Focus on engaging municipalities to set up bulk purchase, but also to take advantage of other/already existing rebates. Engage municipal officials on what can be done back in their communities and hear successes in Freeport, the Islands, etc.

9:35-10am, Q&A



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Panelist Bios:

Kimberly Darling was born and raised in Maine and has no plans to ever leave. Her love for the natural world began in her early childhood where she grew up on Forest Lake in Cumberland, Maine. She attended the University of Southern Maine where she earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Planning and Policy, and has also completed additional course work in Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technologies, as well as Leadership Studies. She began working for the Town of Falmouth as an intern in 2013, and recently became the town’s full-time Energy & Sustainability Coordinator. She also works with the Greater Portland Sustainability Council and local communities to manage a series of Home Energy Fairs each year. She spends as much time as she can outdoors hunting and fishing, and she adores her puppy Kodiak.

Dana Fischer – Residential Program Manager, Efficiency Maine, Augusta, ME. At Efficiency Maine since 2010, Dana manages both the Renewable Resources Fund and Maine’s Home Energy Savings Program providing rebates and financing for residential energy upgrades. In his early days at the Trust, he travelled the state of Maine from York to Fort Kent working to establish the PACE Loan Program (which continues to offer low-interest loans to residents in 185 towns across the state). More than 10,000 homes participated in the rebate program last year and in the past 5 years, the loan program has provided more than $17 million in financing to more than 1,600 home energy projects. He has an MBA from USM in Portland, and a BA in Philosophy from the University of Chicago

Since 2000, Donna Larson has been the Town Planner for Freeport.   Helping Freeport to grow and develop in more sustainable ways has been a big part of her job .  In 2014, Donna launched Solarize Freeport, the first bulk purchase of solar installations in Maine and started a home insulation project for lower income residents.    She has also been instrumental in increasing the affordability of housing, expanding public transportation and developing policies that make farmers more viable.  Donna has a BS in Soils from the University of Maine at Orono (’79) and an MA in Public Policy from the University of Southern Maine (’92).

Vaughan Woodruff is the owner of Insource Renewables of Pittsfield. A graduate of Maine Central Institute and the University of Maine, Vaughan has been selected to lead two Solarize projects in Maine – Solarize Freeport and Solarize Mid Maine. In addition to his solar contracting work in Maine, Vaughan also serves on technical committees for NABCEP and IAPMO, serves as the chair for Maine’s renewable energy trade group, and is a frequent contributor to Home Power magazine.

Rachel Bouvier, founder and principal of rbouvier consulting, specializes in economic and statistical analysis focusing on environmental and natural resource issues. She became interested in GrowSmart Maine in 2014, when Nancy Smith partnered with three of the students in her natural resource economics class at USM, where she was Associate Professor of Economics from 2005 to 2014.

Rachel served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Friends of the Presumpscot River and taught community economic development at the University of New Hampshire. She holds a BA in economics from Smith College, an MS in resource economics from the University of New Hampshire at Durham, and a PhD in economics from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Rachel enjoys hiking, reading, and listening to good music. She lives in Portland with her husband, daughter, and dog Willie.