AUGUSTA – Given the photo-op and full court press Governor Janet Mills and her team put on for the unveiling of the $63,000 Blaine House solar project, it was unsurprising that most initial media coverage of the project was light, positive and some say, a little bit fawning. After a Maine Examiner report broke down the numbers behind the project, Janet Mills is taking some pretty heavy criticism.
Before Politics, a non-profit organization that focuses on stepping out and
away from policies that favor special interest groups, has published two
statements on the topic. The first statement came on Tuesday and highlighted what
they see as insufficient savings for the cost of the project and pointing out that
the solar panels will probably never pay for themselves.
challenged Mills with a question to close that statement, “If a 42-year payback
on equipment that only lasts 25 years is such a good investment for the state,
will Governor Mills put a similar system on her home in Farmington when the
taxpayers aren’t footing the bill?”
MPBP published photos of the solar panels on the roof of the Blaine House
garage, still covered in snow from a storm early in the week.
had stopped by at 10 am, 1 pm and 4 pm, to check the status of the panels, MPBP
said about Mills, “Making sure the new panels actually are able to generate
electricity is less important than their symbolism.”
provided photos with the statement, illustrating their point with the times
they were taken and red arrows pointing at the snow-covered panels.
got in the act, with some people in and around Augusta posting photos of the
solar panels on social media or texting pictures to their friends to show the
panels buried in the state’s first significant snowfall.
Press Herald article, a fairly deep dive into the process that led to the
project, shows a Mills administration more interested in getting the project
done than ensuring the economics were viable.
perspective of Governor Mills and her team, it seems the symbol of the solar
panels is what counts, not the cost. Others, who think Maine’s nursing homes, disabled
and homeless residents and roads were shortchanged by Mills’ in the most recent
state budget or other actions, see it as a waste.
In one statement, MPBP even went so far as to recall the Baldacci era of state government where Maine Housing ran up huge cost overruns on “green” building projects and other questionable and controversial expenses.
“It is an
ugly monument to the narcissism of progressives, signaling their virtue to the
masses, and trumpeting their blind faith in government-subsidized,
environmentally destructive boondoggles,” said State Rep. Larry Lockman in a
Facebook post, accompanied by photos of the solar panels on the Blaine House
lawn, partially covered in snow.
You might love
them or hate them, or maybe you’re just shaking your head about the whole
situation, but one thing is certain – the Blaine House solar panels have become
Whether you see Mills as a courageous politician taking a risk for the pursuit of a worthy message or returning Maine to a reckless, spendthrift past just a few years after emerging from the last financial crisis, the Blaine House solar project has people talking. With winter snow and endless weeks of darkened and gray skies coming in Augusta, people probably won’t stop talking about them anytime soon.