The Green Living Guy

In the wake of recent natural disasters, Maine islands and other coastal communities share innovative energy projects. All to help lead the way for building community resiliency around the world with Island Institute.

SOUTH PORTLAND, ME – The Island Institute held its eighth annual Island Energy Conference in South Portland on May 4th. Thereby bringing together energy experts and island leaders from Maine and New England. Moreover and all over around the world. All to discuss common energy challenges and share solutions. This year’s theme, “Resilient Together”.  For it highlighted what islanders are doing to increase the resilience of their energy systems and communities. All in the face of an increasingly unpredictable world.

“With the devastating effects of hurricanes and storm events hitting hard in island and coastal communities around the world. So these places are among the first to feel the effects of a disrupted climate. However, they have also found themselves on the frontlines of the clean energy revolution. That  was said by Suzanne MacDonald. For Suzanne is the community development officer with the Island Institute.

In his keynote, Caribbean energy expert Martyn Forde, of the Rocky Mountain Institute, helped set the stage. All for that day. Especially by speaking about how communities build resiliency. So the challenges they face show how they work to rebuild more sustainably. Most noteworthy in the wake of these natural disasters.

An energy management consultant with the Rocky Mountain Institute’s Islands Energy Program, Forde is also the Community Leader of the CARILEC Renewable Energy Community (CAREC).

That’s an online platform designed to enable Caribbean utility companies and energy professionals to share their knowledge. Especially on low-carbon technologies and steward organizational knowledge development through webinars. Also virtual working groups and workshops.


Another highlight of the conference was the presentation of the Island Energy Innovation Award. Awarded to the community of Islesboro. The Midcoast island community was recognized with this year’s award. Most importantly for its across-the-board commitment to pursuing clean and efficient island energy systems.

Through the efforts of community groups and island organizations. Also residents, and municipal leaders. For this has included:

1. weatherization and interior storm window insert services provided to dozens of homes

2. facility-wide LED lighting retrofits at Islesboro Central School

3. a small solar project that helps power the school greenhouse.

All funded through grant applications written by the students. Thanks to  the creation of an ad-hoc energy committee by the town Select Board. Also voter support for municipal solar. For that has resulted in a large photovoltaic array on the roof of the town office.

When accepting the award, Toby Martin, chair of the Islesboro Energy Committee, noted the support and hard work of everyone in the community.

As a part of the conference, guests were invited to take part in a special site visit to Islesboro on Saturday, May 5th, where they visited the newly-installed solar installations at the school and town office and heard more about the locally-driven energy efficiency and community planning efforts from the island residents.

8th Year of the Conference 

In its eighth year, the Island Institute’s Island Energy Conference is the region’s premier forum on community-based energy solutions, bringing together island leaders and energy experts from around the world and creating a forum for sharing ideas, exchanging information, and celebrating successes.

To highlight this year’s theme of community resiliency, presentations and panel discussions included: lessons learned from the frontlines of energy efficiency, energy innovation in island communities, bridging the energy efficiency gap in rural areas, the role of leadership and local understanding in building sustainability, how to plan for uncertainty, and ideas for creating and maintaining a resilient energy future.

Caribbean energy expert Martyn Forde delivering the keynote address at the 2018 Island Energy Conference.

Photo credit: Jack Sullivan/island Institute

Representatives from the community of Islesboro, Maine, accept the Island Energy Innovation Award from Harry Podolsky of the Island Institute’s energy team. (Pictured L-R: Melissa Olson, Patrick Phillips, and Sanni Cohn of Islesboro Central School; Podolsky; and Toby Martin of the Islesboro Energy Committee)

Photo credit: Jack Sullivan/island Institute

• Photo 3: The conference group stands in front of the solar project at Islesboro Central School and tours the greenhouse (Photo 4) it helps power during Saturday’s site visit to Islesboro.

Source: Island Institute’s Energy Program,, The Island Institute

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