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Program Overview

Maine island communities pay some of the highest energy costs in the nation but local efforts are beginning to reverse this trend. Through the Collaborative for Island Energy Research and Action (CIERA), a cohort of five island residents will help build on these efforts through an intensive energy leadership program in partnership with the Island Institute and the College of the Atlantic. This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity will support project development and implementation to help transform our island energy futures.

  • Samsø Energy Academy
  • Samsø wind turbines

Participants will:

  • Join College of the Atlantic (COA) students and faculty and Island Institute staff in a “monster course” that includes study in three areas: Energy and Technology, Impact Investing, and Islands: Energy, Economy and Community;
  • Attend the Samsø Energy Academy on Samsø Island, Denmark to learn first-hand from residents of this farming and tourist community how Samsø became carbon negative through strategies such as  efficiency upgrades, wind and solar power production, biomass distributed district heating, and other elements of a renewable energy portfolio;
  • Develop project ideas and feasibility studies for energy initiatives on their own islands that can help their communities become more sustainable;
  • Learn how to share what they’ve learned with their broader communities;and
  • Learn how to structure financing as well how to access project stipend funds and ongoing staff support in order to implement projects.

Project Guidance

Each participant will have the opportunity to develop an energy project that reflects the needs and priorities of their own community. Projects may be pursued individually or as a group that includes other islanders and/or COA students. Island Institute staff and COA faculty will work with participants to support project development by focusing on three main elements throughout the course: energy technology, financing and business development, and community engagement. Sample project topics include:

  • Implementing island-wide energy efficiency
  • Accessing alternative heating fuels/systems
  • Evaluating offshore windpower
  • Developing energy-focused eco-tourism