To the Editor:

Last week you saw us, the students of Bowdoin College, turn out in strong numbers and speak passionately at the hearings in opposition to the Central Maine Power (CMP) rate change. We spoke to news outlets and directly to you about how a rate change—in particular a standby fee on renewables—would put progress at risk, adversely effect our school, and put our futures in Maine in jeopardy.

The Friday after the hearings, still feeling the rush of excitement from the hearings, Bowdoin students mobilized to turn off all of the light switches accessible to them and un-plug as many devices as possible from CMP’s grid. Part visual experiment, part boycott, during those fifteen minutes we were able to decrease energy use by 7.7 percent overall and by 13 percent on North Campus where the Quad, most of the first year bricks, and the majority of the academic buildings reside. Because a large portion of this decrease came from the dorms, some of which reduced their energy use by more than half, it is clear how much massive student support and collaboration was required to create this kind of event.

Beyond the practicality of a 15-minute boycott of CMP’s services, there was a beauty to it. The campus was unlike I had ever seen it. The freshman bricks only sported ribbons of light from the automatically illuminated bathrooms. In a transformation of one of Bowdoin’s most iconic buildings, Hubbard’s black silhouette revealed no light from the interior. Even Coles Tower, the second tallest building in Maine and our second largest residence hall, managed to go completely black.

How did this happen? Well, 76 students volunteered to turn off lights outside of their room, but there were far more students, faculty and staff who made sure that their rooms, offices, and break spaces were dark and unplugged. There are remarkably few times when the campus is unified around one issue, and this was one of them.

Maine Public Utilities Commission, (MPUC) we call on you to make a choice for the future of this great state. Do not approve the rate change. Do not punish renewables. Instead, help us move into a future that allows us, as citizens of Maine and as citizens of humanity, to chose to be energy independent. 

Thank you for your service to the state of Maine. I hope you make the right choice for the state you serve.

Bridgett McCoy ’15