Just like in “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,” the winds of November came early this year – on the evening of Oct. 30, in fact. It was an impressive display (though if you rely on Route 52 for your daily commute, perhaps you’d insert a different adjective here). Equally impressive was the response by the Fox Islands Energy Cooperative.

Having spent the storm on North Haven’s Crabtree Point, there were moments when I thought the house in which I was trying to sleep might actually be ripped from the stony outcropping on which it stood. Thankfully it was not, but when I finally ventured out of bed – the sky still shrouded in darkness – I quickly learned the power was out.  It was a bummer, but not a surprise. Plenty of people on the mainland lost power, too, for varying lengths.

At such times, one can spare a moment to consider from where our electricity comes. Sure, the problems we face post-storm are usually have to do with transmission versus generation, but for us non-engineers, it’s all really kind of the same thing.

Until the early 1970s, the islands were energy independent. First a coal-fired, and later a diesel-powered plant on Vinalhaven generated the juice. Then came the electrical tether to the mainland, which, in 2005, got its own submarine trench.  But that’s not the whole story. Just look out across the bay and you can see what Don Quixote would tilt at if given the chance: windmills.

According to the Fox Islands Energy Cooperative, today the electricity generated from these windmills meets more than 85% of the islands’ needs. Yes, we’re only talking about 1,500 people, but still it’s an interesting fact.

More broadly, a fifth of Maine’s own generated power comes from the wind. According to the U.S. Energy Information Agency, we are the sixth-highest producer of wind power in the country. Almost 80% comes from renewable sources, which puts us in stark contrast to a state like West Virginia, which gets nearly all its power from coal-fired plants.

We are one of the lowest power producing states in America, though in the glass half full department, we have among the lowest carbon emission rates in the country.  The 1997 shutdown of the Maine Yankee nuclear power plant made the state more reliant on outside sources.  While our balance of sources is positive, more can be done to increase generation.

Imagine if the $71 million (-plus) spent on both sides of Question 1 had instead been invested in further strengthening the diversity of source from which Maine generates electricity today. No use crying over spilt milk. If we thought energy reliance on Canada was an option, that was only marginally brighter than laying our collective faith in OPEC. The answer, as the bard once mused, lies not in the stars, but in ourselves. Because consumption is relatively small in Maine, greater energy independence is a realistic goal.

Consumption on Crabtree Point was lower still last weekend – my friend and I accounted for one of the two households impacted – but that didn’t prevent the Fox Island Energy Cooperative from a fast response. I’d already happily resolved to be stranded there (a fallen tree and live wire made the road impassable) and hadn’t even had time to consider how I’d pull water from the well without an electric pump by the time they showed up and cheerfully fixed everything. Vinalhaven, the technician explained, had been hit even worse.

There is a lot to be said for small-scale, independent production. I’m grateful to the recent windstorm for underscoring this truth.

Sam Patten is a recovering political consultant who was raised in Knox County and worked for Maine’s last three Republican senators.