On December 15, Maine Public Utilities Commission Chairman Tom Welch addressed attendees of the Maine Renewable Energy Association’s 17th Annual Gathering. In his thoughtful and thought provoking presentation (pdf), Mr. Welch questioned the role of renewable energy in addressing climate change in the near- and medium-term, as well as the difficulty in achieving any politically palatable policy changes that could alter trends over the next century or two. What might this mean for the renewable energy industry, he asked? He suggested that in explaining the need for renewable energy to the public and to policy-makers, proponents of these sources of energy might need to change their focus. Instead of highlighting the reduction in carbon emissions achievable through a shift to renewable energy, proponents may find it more helpful, and even necessary, to highlight the other benefits of renewable energy projects. Mr. Welch summarized what he sees as the other key benefits in his presentation. His insightful remarks are well worth the read.