Unplugging a way of life: Maine island eyes trading local control for cheaper electricity
September 30, 2016
Gabor Degre / BDN
Ed Schwabe, president of Swan’s Island Electric Cooperative board of directors, talks about the proposed sale of the small cooperative to Emera Maine recently on Swan's Island. The retired Army colonel has been a year-round resident of the island for over a decade.
By Darren Fishell / Bangor Daily News
On Swan’s Island and other islands, high energy costs have been a fact of life. Many places are considering how to change that, but the situation on each island is unique.
“About the only thing the islands in Maine have in common is that they’re islands,” Schwabe said.
Some, such as Swan’s Island, have connections to the mainland. Others generate all of their own electricity through a local utility and have no connection, such as Harbor Island, which guards Burnt Coat Harbor and sits in view of the Swan’s Island cooperative.
The challenges of island life are many, but lowering energy costs chips away at one barrier, according to Brooks Winner, a community energy associate with the Island Institute.
“I think that we definitely see lowering energy costs as a way to boost the local economy on the islands and make it easier for folks to justify staying there or moving there,” Winner said. “It’s hard to say what will happen for Swan’s and Frenchboro, but I think that lowering energy costs is a good thing, and it can only help the year-round communities in both places.”