“Power Dialog: Maine’s Energy Future” will engage students, faculty, and staff at high schools, colleges, and universities throughout Maine in a weeklong discussion with state officials about Maine’s energy and climate policy.

Organized locally by Unity College, The University of Maine, and Maine Conservation Alliance, the Power Dialog is a nationwide, nonpartisan educational event aimed at bringing students face-to-face with officials in 30 states.

Faculty in each state will teach energy and climate policy in their classes, and students from these classes will travel to Power Dialog sites to engage policymakers. The concept was the subject of a recent New York Times post by national environmental writer Andrew C. Revkin.

“Young people are arguably the most important stakeholders in this planning process, since today’s students will live on into the second half of the 21st century and will directly experience the long term impacts of our decisions today,” Unity College President Dr. Melik Peter Khoury said. “Power Dialog is a great tool to starting a conversation between current and future leaders.”

The Power Dialog, sponsored by the Center for Environmental Policy at Bard College, focuses on what states can do to help meet the U.S. Paris Climate commitment. It is not an advocacy or lobbying project. There is no legislative agenda. The goal is simply to “educate thousands of young people about the emerging new rules for climate protection, and to give them a chance to talk face-to-face with the state regulators who are shaping their future.”

“A nonpartisan approach, like that of Power Dialog, is exactly what it is required to continue to make sustainability progress,” Khoury said. “We are now passing the tipping point and sustainability values are becoming more mainstream; in order to go beyond low-hanging-fruit responses like recycling and low-energy appliances, sustainability leaders must put powerful and maybe even unlikely partnerships at the top of the agenda.”

Young people will experience firsthand the process of climate policy formation, see how states can move forward at low cost to meet the Paris targets, and to pose questions like:

What is the state target for renewable energy, and is it strong enough?
Will communities of color benefit from this policy, or will they be exposed to even more pollution?
Is our state going to gain jobs from solar, wind and energy efficiency?
Are we going to be “trade-ready”?
Would a price on carbon help meet the state goal?
At the Maine event April 6 in Orono, state officials will present five- to 10-minute overviews of their roles in Maine’s energy policy, and describe how their efforts tie in with regional and national climate plan developments.

Their remarks will be followed by a facilitated Q&A session with students attending Maine’s Power Dialog classes. Khoury will provide opening and closing remarks and facilitate the panel of Maine energy policy experts: Efficiency Maine Executive Director Michael Stoddard, Maine Public Utilities Advocate Tim Schneider, and Lisa Smith, senior planner for the State Energy Office.

This event is free and open to college and high school students. But space is limited. To register, click here today.

College faculty, high school teachers, and leaders of student groups are invited to register on behalf of entire classes or groups. Registered faculty and teachers will receive educational resources to incorporate into their curriculum, and are invited to name a class representative to ask a question during the panel discussion on behalf of the class. Individual students may also register.

The event takes place 2:30 to 4:30 p.m., WEDNESDAY, April 6, in Wells Conference Center, Room 1, University of Maine, Orono. Doors open at 2.

Power Dialog Agenda

2:00 Doors open

2:20 Student representatives take places in front row; state officials take places on stage

2:30 Welcome & Introduction of Dr. Khoury by Dr. Robert Dana, Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students, UMaine

2:35 Opening remarks & Introduction of state officials by Dr. Peter Melik Khoury, President, Unity College

2:40 State officials’ remarks : Michael Stoddard, Executive Director, Efficiency Maine, Tim Schneider, Public Advocate, Lisa Smith, Senior Planner, Energy Office, If available: Representative Ryan Tipping-Spitz

3:10 Facilitated Q&A between student representatives and state officials. Moderator: Dr. Khoury

4:00 Questions from the floo

4:25 Closing remarks and thank you by Dr. Khoury

4:30 Commence/Conversation at Nonprofit tables, Room 3

Monday, March 21, 2016