“Maine’s energy, environment and economic landscape will be improved for generations to come, and Maine people will benefit by being healthier and more economically secure thanks to your support of green energy development,” said Governor Baldacci. “For far too long we’ve been dependent on fossil fuels to heat our homes, power our industries and transport goods and people. Together, we are pursuing clean, renewable, home-grown energy that will enable us to kick the oil habit.”
The Governor ceremonially signed five key pieces of energy legislation:
• LD 1786, "An act Regarding Energy Infrastructure Development"
• LD 1535, "An Act to Create a Smart Grid Policy in the State"
• LD 1717, "An Act to Increase the Affordability of Clean Energy for Homeowners and Businesses"
• LD 1504, “An Act to Provide Predictable Benefits to Maine Communities That Host Wind Energy Developments”
• LD 1810, "An Act to Implement the Recommendations of the Governor’s Ocean Energy Task Force"
Governor Baldacci said that Maine has been a leader in demonstrating energy efficiency, weatherization and development of renewable energy.
Since 2003, Maine State government has modeled various energy efficiency efforts and used green energy to heat buildings. In the last year, Maine obtained significant opportunities for residential weatherization and business and industrial energy efficiency as a result of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative funds and federal Recovery Act funding.
Last year, the Legislature passed the Governor’s comprehensive energy package that established the goal to weatherize all residences and 50 percent of businesses by 2030 and reduce the State’s consumption of liquid fossil fuels by at least 30 percent by 2030. The State has also established a goal of 3000 megawatts of wind energy by 2020 and put all energy efficiency programs together under one roof.
LD 1786, "An act Regarding Energy Infrastructure Development," the energy corridor legislation, is a major step forward in ensuring a reliable energy infrastructure and process for its use. It calls for the designated corridors to be used only if likely to reduce electric rates and otherwise benefit the long-term public interest of the State, including not adversely impacting renewable energy generation in Maine. The revenues from the use of State assets are also directed to improve energy efficiency and renewable energy, including alternative transportation.
Building on the infrastructure reliability is the bill LD 1535, “An Act to Create a Smart Grid Policy in the State.” The bill will ensure that all Maine ratepayers benefit from smart grid technology that saves energy, increases reliability, reduces costs and provides consumers with more options. This bill gets Maine ready for a future where we can utilize electric storage and peak-reduction strategies including plug-in electric and hybrid electric vehicles in a sophisticated and energy-efficient manner.
LD 1717, "An Act to Increase the Affordability of Clean Energy for Homeowners and Businesses," helps Maine property owners make affordable energy efficiency upgrades to their homes and businesses. Maine towns and cities can establish a property assessed clean energy (PACE) program to assist property owners with the up-front costs of weatherization and efficiency upgrades that often prevent them from making such improvements. This legislation complements the recent award from the U.S. Department of Energy of $30 million to Maine for a Retrofit Ramp-up program that will help to aggressively weatherize Maine’s older housing stock in a way that works for Maine people.
The bill LD 1504, “An Act to Provide Predictable Benefits to Maine Communities That Host Wind Energy Developments,” clarifies that as we seek to aggressively pursue wind power in Maine, that minimum benefits to ratepayers in host communities are demonstrated. As part of a permit application, expedited wind energy development projects must demonstrate a community benefits package valued at no less than $4000 per year per wind turbine, in addition to property tax benefits and jobs created by the project.
LD 1810, based on the recommendations of the Ocean Energy Task Force, advances development of Maine’s vast renewable ocean energy resource as quickly as possible, yet in an environmentally responsible way. The bill establishes a State goal of 5 gigawatts of energy generation from facilities located in coastal waters by 2030. A competitive process will be conducted by the Maine Public Utilities Commission for long-term contracting from one or more deep-water offshore wind energy pilot projects up to 25 Megawatts or tidal demonstration projects up to 5 Megawatts. The bill enacts a clear permitting system for projects in State waters and clarifies leasing of submerged lands for ocean energy projects.
The Governor said this legislative success also complements the June bond question that would provide $11 million for research and development of ocean wind power demonstration sites and wind energy components manufacturing in Maine.
“Our success is built on innovative leadership and public-private partnerships,” said Governor Baldacci. “We can also take pride in the fact that we in Maine recognize the issue of a clean energy future is not a partisan one. I am hopeful that in Maine, we will continue to take the opportunity to work together, because when we do, Maine people benefit.”
For more information on the energy legislation passed in this Legislative session, visit www.maine.gov/legis