A clean energy coalition in Maine is seeking to boost the state's renewable portfolio standard from 10% by 2017 to 14% by 2017 with incremental increases, ending with 20% by 2020. The initiative also ensures that the Maine Public Utilities Commission identifies and captures energy-efficiency opportunities that are cost-effective.
The group – Maine Citizens for Clean Energy – says that doing so would help the state create jobs, lower energy costs and reduce Maine's dependence on imported energy sources.
‘Our energy status quo isn't working,’ says Sargent Corp.'s Herb Sargent. "Every year, Mainers hand over billions of hard-earned dollars to out-of-state and foreign energy companies. The initiative put forward by Maine Citizens for Clean Energy would help to change that. It would create jobs by investing in energy efficiency, which would help lower electric bills, and it would attract new clean energy businesses to our state. It's a practical idea that will help put thousands of Mainers to work."
According to the coalition, the initiative builds off of the success of Maine's existing programs and aims to increase the amount of Maine's electricity supply that will come from new "made-in-Maine" renewable resources – such as wind, solar, hydro and tidal energy – by increasing incrementally the percentage of new renewable resources of electricity sold in Maine.
In addition, the bill would require utility companies to invest in energy efficiency for Maine people and businesses whenever it would reduce energy costs for ratepayers.
"This is a market-based solution that will increase competition among power companies and drive down costs for consumers," says Jeremy Payne, executive director of the Maine Renewable Energy Association. "All renewable energy technologies are eligible, and the policy encourages competition among energy technologies that will help Maine become more energy independent, create jobs and diversify our sources of energy."
An analysis by Environment Northeast, a nonprofit organization that conducts research and analysis on environmental challenges with respect to the economy, examined the costs and benefits of the full initiative, and found that Maine residential ratepayers would ultimately have lower electric bills if this initiative were to be approved, the coalition notes.