ME towns share plans, resources to build climate resilience
Monday, November 20, 2023
Community groups across Maine are helping small towns with fewer resources better prepare for the growing threat of climate change.
They are conducting energy audits to help towns save money and implement renewable energy projects, including off-grid emergency shelters.
Scott Vlaun, executive director of the Center for an Ecology-Based Economy, said his group is working with the town of Norway to assess infrastructure potentially vulnerable to extreme weather events like the devastating floods last spring.
"This work will help us share what one town learned with other towns," Vlaun explained. "And help the towns get their own plans in place."
Vlaun pointed out stream crossings and road culverts are especially vulnerable to flood damage, resulting in costly repairs. He emphasized the goal is to create templates for climate resilience, which can be shared statewide.
Maine, like the rest of New England, is warming faster than the rest of the country while also experiencing a higher rate of extreme downpours.
Vlaun said building the climate resiliency of Maine's rural towns may seem like a small step but it is part of a growing nationwide movement to prepare for climate change, and the federal government's efforts to fund it.
"Our goal out here is, we have so many under-resourced communities in western Maine that we want to make sure that our communities get the fair share of these energy dollars and other climate resilience money that's coming," Vlaun outlined.
Vlaun added some of the funds should go toward repairing and reinforcing outdated electrical infrastructure in rural areas highly susceptible to power outages. The state is also kicking in funding to address those needs through its Community Resilience Partnership, which is part of the state's four-year climate plan.
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