Bar Harbor
Aerial view of Bar Harbor, Maine. (Photo credit: Smudge 9000 / Wikimedia)

Mount Desert Island – off the coast of Maine – is known for its spectacular mountains, forests, and rocky beaches. The landscape is pristine.

Blotnick: “So there’s a great desire among its citizens to keep it that way.”

Joe Blotnick is co-coordinator of A Climate to Thrive. The group was started by residents who were undeterred by a lack of state and federal climate leadership.

They convinced the island’s town of Bar Harbor to put a community solar project on the roof of a public works building. Then they set out to tackle energy, food waste, and transportation across the island.

Blotnick says many local institutions are interested in renewable energy projects, but they’re too busy with day-to-day tasks to get started.

Blotnick: “So, we come in and speed up that process by writing a request for proposals, working with vendors, working with their trustees, and making it happen so that it gets done quickly.”

Using this approach, the group has secured grants for new electric vehicle charging stations and helped the island double its solar capacity.

Blotnick says residents are inspired by the progress.

Blotnick: “They begin to realize that, wow, we can make a change. We can make a difference at the local level.”

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media.

Jan Ellen Spiegel

Jan Ellen Spiegel is a long-time Connecticut-based journalist whose career has included radio, television, print, and digital reporting. She has won awards for her reporting on energy, environment, climate...