The installation of solar panels at the governor's mansion in Augusta got underway Tuesday, fulfilling a vow by Gov. Janet Mills to lead by example in the state's effort to dramatically reduce carbon emissions by 2050.
Workers from ReVision Energy read measurements as they construct a large solar tracker, which follows the sun across the sky, on the front lawn of the mansion grounds.
And nearby on the garage, a two-man crew installed mounts for rooftop panels. There are no panels on the roof of the Blaine House, which is a national historic landmark.
Mills's office says the project costs $63,000 and will reduce the mansion's electricity bill - roughly $11,000 last year - by about 25 percent in the first year.
Installation began a day after Mills addressed a symposium of government leaders and scientists about climate change impacts on the Gulf of Maine.
The Mills administration is making a big push for renewable energy as part of the governor's goal to transition Maine away from fossil fuels, a contrast to former Republican Gov. Paul LePage, who was known as largely hostile to renewables.
Nonetheless, LePage also used the governor's mansion to highlight his energy focus. He installed 22 heat pumps at the Blaine House, a $115,000 renovation that coincided with converting the mansion's oil burner to natural gas.
The Mills administration says the solar project payback will take about 29 years and produce 26,000 kilowatt hours of renewable energy, removing 28,000 pounds of carbon emissions - equivalent to 2.3 million smartphone charges a year - or 43 barrels of oil.
Originally published Nov. 5, 2019 at 2:43 p.m. ET.