BAR HARBOR — Since January, when Johannah Blackman was named the new executive director of A Climate To Thrive, an island-based organization that seeks to achieve energy independence for Mount Desert Island by 2030, the nonprofit has continued to evolve.
“Our programs have been developing rapidly,” Blackman said.
When former Executive Director Lawson Wulsin left the role in September 2021, Blackman stepped in temporarily. During a six-month interim phase, she proved capable of taking on the job and the board of directors ultimately agreed.
In addition to appointing new leadership, ACTT has completed and launched more projects this year.
ACTT is wrapping up a weatherization project this summer that brought more than 120 home energy consults to MDI homeowners. It recently finished Solarize MDI 2.0, a community education campaign that resulted in 60 new rooftop solar panel installations.
“We are now working on a cooperative ownership model for solar, which would help low- and moderate-income homeowners,” said Blackman. Currently, the upfront cost of installing solar energy remains a hurdle for most prospective solar panel owners.
Over the last year, ACTT’s team created a co-op solar program – a project that Blackman said will help potential solar panel owners navigate the technical, financial and legal barriers of going solar to gain the benefits of community solar energy. The program is currently in the development phase. Alongside the Center for Ecology-Based Economy in Western Maine, ACTT is currently consulting with Massachusetts-based Co-Op Power to develop a cooperative ownership model for solar energy.
The organization is also working to develop a Comprehensive Building Solutions program to help building owners control energy and reduce associated costs. ACTT will teach owners how to increase the comfort of their buildings through weatherization efficiency, electrification and solar. Though the organization is currently in research and development for that program, it is set to be launched within the next few months.
Aside from their recent completion and launch of programs, ACTT has spearheaded other projects, such as the installation of charging stations for electric vehicles.
Blackman said all ACTT projects would not exist without the organization’s members and interns, and that she is grateful for the support of the community and donors.
For more information about ACTT programs and campaigns, or to learn more about becoming an intern, visit www.aclimatetothrive.org.