Entries Filed in 'Energy Issues'

Bill would have provided rebates for heat pumps and solar panels in Maine killed by Republicans

April 18th, 2014 · No Comments · Capitol news, Creative Economy, Energy Issues

ReVision installation on EcoVillage’s showcase GO Logic passive solar home. photo by Ramona du houx

ReVision installation on EcoVillage’s showcase GO Logic passive solar home. photo by Ramona du houx


In a 22-13 vote, the Senate Republicans sustained Governor LePage’s veto of a bill that would have provided rebates for solar panels and heat pumps for low-income Mainers. Overriding a veto requires two-thirds, or 24 Senate votes.The Senate originally supported the measure in a vote of 22-12. Republican Senator Ron Collins initially supported the bill then flipped his vote and supported Governor LePage’s veto.

“Despite Maine’s abundant solar resource, we are the only state in New England with zero policy support for solar energy. Gov. LePage’s veto of the solar rebate bill, and the Senate’s failure to override the veto, demonstrate that our state leadership thinks fossil fuels are the way to go. This is reckless in a state that already has the highest per capita greenhouse gas emissions in New England, while the state’s biggest industry, tourism, is predicated on a pristine natural environment,” said Phil Coupe of Revision Energy.

The measure would have reestablished the solar rebate program under Efficiency Maine and helped Mainers install more than 1,250 new solar panels and heat pumps at Maine homes and businesses.

“This bill would have created jobs in an emerging industry and helped low-income Mainers heat their homes,” said Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson of Allagash. “Why would you oppose jobs for Maine, or assistance for the elderly and low-income Mainers struggling to pay their oil bills? It’s disappointing Governor LePage’s veto spree has once again hurt our economy and hurt some of our most vulnerable neighbors.”

Maine spends $5 billion per year importing fossil fuels and is the most petroleum-dependent state for home heating, with more than 70% of households using it as their primary heating source.

According to a 2010 report, rooftop solar panels alone could provide 24% of Maine’s electricity.

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Bill that would have provided rebates for heat pumps and solar panels blocked by Republicans

April 16th, 2014 · No Comments · Business & Innovation, Capitol news, Energy Issues, Environment

Electrician installing solar panels on the roof of a building. Both lawmakers agree more R&D bonds are necessary to grow a clean an innovative economy.

Electrician installing solar panels on the roof of a building. Most lawmakers agreed solar rebates would help Maine grow a clean an innovative economy.But extreme Tea Party Republicans blocked the effort.

In a 22-13 vote, the Senate Republicans sustained Governor LePage’s veto of a bill that would have provided rebates for solar panels and heat pumps for low-income Mainers. Overriding a veto requires two-thirds, or 24 Senate votes.

The Senate originally supported the measure in a vote of 22-12. Republican Senator Ron Collins initially supported the bill then flipped his vote and supported Governor LePage’s veto.The measure would have reestablished the solar rebate program under Efficiency Maine and helped Mainers install more than 1,250 new solar panels and heat pumps at Maine homes and businesses.

“This bill would have created jobs in an emerging industry and helped low-income Mainers heat their homes,” said Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson. “Why would you oppose jobs for Maine, or assistance for the elderly and low-income Mainers struggling to pay their oil bills? It’s disappointing Governor LePage’s veto spree has once again hurt our economy and hurt some of our most vulnerable neighbors.”

Maine spends $5 billion per year importing fossil fuels and is the most petroleum-dependent state for home heating, with more than 70 percent of households using it as their primary heating source. According to a 2010 report, rooftop solar panels alone could provide 24 percent of Maine’s electricity.

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Jackson’s thermal energy bill to look at renewable biomass for energy production becomes law

April 15th, 2014 · No Comments · Business & Innovation, Community Maine, Creative Economy, Energy Issues, Maine's green energy potential

The Senate unanimously gave final approval to a bill sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson to study the potential benefits of biomass for renewable energy.The measure directs the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to complete a comprehensive study on the potential benefits and barriers to making thermal energies eligible for the State of Maine’s renewable energy portfolio standard. This standard is a regulation that requires at least 30% of energy production in Maine to come from renewable energy sources.

“With more and more Mainers struggling to heat their homes, we need to explore alternative sources for energy,” said Senator Jackson of Allagash. “Biomass is one option for renewable energy, and this study will help us determine the role it could play in Maine’s energy future.”

As part of the study, the PUC will review the legislative actions of New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Maryland to add thermal energies to their portfolios. The PUC will report their findings to the Legislature in 2015. The measure, LD 1468 “Resolve, Directing the Public Utilities Commission To Study the Potential Benefits and Barriers Involved in Making Renewable Thermal Technologies Eligible for Qualification in Maine’s Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard”, will be sent to Governor LePage for his signature.

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Maine House overrides LePage veto of solar energy bill

April 14th, 2014 · No Comments · Capitol news, Energy Issues, Environment, Maine's green energy potential

ReVison Energy installs solar car battery chargers like this one at their headquarters in Portland. Photo by Ramona du Houx

ReVison Energy installs solar car battery chargers like this one at their headquarters in Portland. Photo by Ramona du Houx

In a vote of 105 to 41, the Maine House overrode Gov. Paul LePage’s veto of a bill that would provide rebates for solar panels as well as heat pump rebates for low-income Mainers.

LD 1252 reestablishes the solar rebate program under Efficiency Maine and would help more than 1,250 new solar panel and hot water projects at Maine homes and businesses.

“The strong bipartisan support for clean, renewable energy sources bodes well for the people of Maine,” said bill sponsor Rep. Terry Morrison. “We cannot afford to continue to subsidize big oil without looking at other options. We must explore all of our alternatives and not let ideology limit our ability to save our citizens money. Maine people are struggling to pay their bills. Solar panels and heat pumps are a part of an ‘all of the above’ energy strategy to put more in the pockets of the people we serve.”

The bill that was vetoed was crafted in a bipartisan manner with the addition of an amendment from Rep. Lance Harvell, that would provide Mainers who qualify for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program with rebates for heat pumps. The bill now goes to the Senate for a vote.

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Solar energy bill caught in LePage veto spree

April 12th, 2014 · No Comments · Business & Innovation, Capitol news, Energy Issues

Installing solar panels in Maine. photo by Ramona du Houx

Installing solar panels in Maine. photo by Ramona du Houx

A bill that would provide rebates for solar panels as well as heat pump rebates for low-income Mainers was vetoed by Gov. Paul LePage on Friday. The proposal would have brought back solar rebates put in place with the Baldacci Administration.

“We need to look at the big picture when it comes to energy. We simply can’t afford to ignore solar energy, which is renewable, clean and helps keep down electricity bills that are rising because of the expansion of transmission and distribution lines,” said the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Terry Morrison. “This veto is even more baffling because a Republican amendment improved the bill by adding heat pump rebates for low-income Mainers. It’s a win-win measure that I hope lawmakers on both sides of the aisle will continue to support.”

Not only does LD 1252 reestablish the solar rebate program under Efficiency Maine it would also help more than 1,250 new solar panel and hot water projects at Maine homes and businesses. The bill that was vetoed was crafted in a bipartisan manner with the addition of an amendment from Rep. Lance Harvell, that would provide Mainers who qualify for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program with rebates for heat pumps.

“Solar power is a huge untapped resource in Maine and making it more affordable for Maine families is just common sense. We receive more sunshine than any other New England state, but we are last in the Northeast when it comes to using the sun’s energy to power our homes and businesses. This bill would create jobs, help us fight against global climate disruption, and save Mainers money. Unfortunately, since taking office Gov. LePage has put his own partisan ideology ahead of sound policy, good science and clean, renewable energy development in Maine,” said Congressman Mike Michaud. “By investing in Maine’s renewable energy advantage, we can attract billions of dollars in private-sector investments, create jobs and drive down energy costs for Maine businesses and families.”

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Small business owners urge Maine’s Gov. LePage not to veto solar energy bill

April 9th, 2014 · 4 Comments · Business & Innovation, Capitol news, Economy, Energy Issues, Maine's green energy potential

Solar panels on top of the G.O Logic home in Belfast installed by ReVision, Maine.

Solar panels on top of the G.O Logic home in Belfast.

Small businesses gathered in Augusta, Maine to urge Governor LePage to allow a solar bill to become law, now that it has passed the Legislature with bipartisan support. Over 20 small businesses signed a letter to the Governor saying that the bill would allow more small businesses to invest in money-saving solar energy and support more good paying, clean energy jobs. LD 1252 would reinstate the solar energy program at Efficiency Maine, which provides rebates to homeowners and businesses to help lower the up-front cost of rooftop solar energy arrays.

“Duratherm has utilized this program in the past to help fund the installation of our solar wall at our Vasslaboro facility about three years ago,” said Tim Downing, President of Duratherm Windows. “The result of this installation has been a 35 percent reduction in the amount of LP gas used at our facility. Not only has the solar system reduced our fuel usage, but it has also increased the number of hours per day our finish room can be used in the coldest days of winter. Energy efficiency and renewable energy investments at our facility have enabled us to eliminate our use of #2 oil (previously 21,000 gallons/year.)”

Last year the Baldacci administration’s solar program ran out of funds, leaving Maine the only New England state with no policies specifically to help people invest in solar on their homes and businesses, and leaving hundreds of Maine solar jobs in jeopardy. LD 1252 was enacted by the Legislature by strong votes in each body (House 109-30, Senate 22-12). It would provide one million dollars per year for 2.5 years for the program.

“This solar program helped hundreds of Maine home- and business owners invest in solar energy, and it was a key part of growing the solar industry in Maine—from Portland to areas like Pittsfield and Newport,” said Vaughan Woodruff, Owner of Insource Renewables in Pittsfield. “Now is not the time to abandon that progress.”

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Maine’s Solar incentive bill receives unanimous State Senate approval

April 3rd, 2014 · No Comments · Capitol news, Energy Issues, Environment, Maine's green energy potential

Solar power in Maine is about to receive rebates from lawmakers. Photo by Ramona du Houx

Solar power in Maine is about to receive rebates from lawmakers. Photo by Ramona du Houx

 The Maine State Senate unanimously gave initial approval to a measure to increase solar energy development in Maine.

“Maine is the only state in New England without a solar incentive program and because of this we are missing out on an important opportunity to increase access to energy, protect our environment, and strengthen our economy,” said Senator Vitelli of Arrowsic, the sponsor of the measure. “The sun is the most abundant energy source on the planet and we would do well to take advantage of it.”

Senator Vitelli’s bill creates roadmap for solar power in Maine, based upon a tax incentive program of the Baldacci administration that was law until the funds ran out and the LePage administration refused to continue the program.

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Maine’s first wood pellet manufacturer to expand with PTDZ benefits – but DECD neglects to say the company already had PTDZ status

March 19th, 2014 · No Comments · Business & Innovation, Energy Issues, Environment

DECD Commissioner John Richardson, the owners and CEO of Corinth Wood Pellets and Governor John Baldacci during the ribon cutting ceremony in 2007, when the company originally was designated with PTDZ status. Photo by Ramona du Houx

DECD Commissioner John Richardson, the owners and CEO of Corinth Wood Pellets and Governor John Baldacci during the ribon cutting ceremony in 2007, when the company originally was designated with PTDZ status. Photo by Ramona du Houx

Corinth Pellets, LLC announced that they will invest upwards of $7 million on a pellet manufacturing facility located in Penobscot County. Major work is planned for facility and equipment upgrades. The investment is expected to lead to the creation of 18 new jobs for the wood pellet manufacturer.

The facility in Corinth has been operational since 2007, when it originally qualified for Pine Tree Development Zone (PTDZ) status and used those benefits to get started. The Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner (DECD), John Richardson and Jack Cashman, the governor’s economic advisor, helped negotiate the details under the Baldacci administration, which created PTDZ’s.

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Proposed bill to promote solar energy development in Maine advances

March 19th, 2014 · 1 Comment · Business & Innovation, Capitol news, Economy, Energy Issues, Environment, Maine's green energy potential

ReVision Energy workers installing solar panels on the Alfond arena, at Thomas College.

The Energy, Utilities, and Technology Committee unanimously voted to support a bill sponsored by Democratic Senator Eloise Vitelli to support solar energy development in Maine.

“Maine is the only state in New England without a solar incentive program and because of this we are missing out on an important opportunity to increase access to energy, protect our environment, and strengthen our economy,” said Senator Vitelli. “The sun is the most abundant energy source on the planet and we would do well to take advantage of it.”

Maine’s solar energy rebates started under Gov. John Baldacci’s administration but when the funding ran out the LePage administration let the program die. Maine spends $5 billion per year importing fossil fuels and is the most petroleum-dependent state for home heating, with more than 70 percent of households using it as their primary heating source.

“Although Maine gets 33 percent more sunshine per year than Germany, the world leader in solar energy harvest, the Dirigo state is the only territory in New England with zero state policy support for solar energy,” said Phil Coupe of ReVison Energy, a Maine-based company that installs solar energy systems and helps non-profits with special financing programs so they can adopt solar power. “We have a tremendous opportunity to create good-paying jobs, reduce long-term energy costs and restore Maine’s air quality by adopting Senator Vitelli’s solar bill.”

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Bill to strengthen wind energy law receives support

February 18th, 2014 · No Comments · Business & Innovation, Capitol news, Energy Issues, Maine's green energy potential

The VolturnUS floating offshore wind turbine 1/8th pilot at it's launch. VolturnUS is the only offshore wind turbine in the Americas. photo by Ramona du Houx

The VolturnUS floating offshore wind turbine 1/8th pilot at it’s launch. VolturnUS is the only offshore wind turbine in the Americas. photo by Ramona du Houx

President William Jefferson Clinton in his book Back to Work wrote, “The surest way to create jobs, cut costs, enhance national security, cut the trade deficit by up to 50 percent, and fight global warming is to change the way we produce and consume energy.”

A measure to strengthen Maine’s wind energy law, sponsored by Senate President Justin Alfond received strong support today at a public hearing before the Legislature’s Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee.

“Business and industry need a fair, consistent, and predictable regulatory environment,” said President Alfond. “Renewable energy and wind power development are very important to Maine, and this bill is an attempt to create a regulatory environment where decisions are made in a transparent, consistent, and predictable manner.”

The bill explicitly states that the Department of Environmental Protection shall not establish new requirements on permitting without going through established procedures. The bill also requires a written explanation when the primary siting authority ignores the opinion of a hired expert.<

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