Entries Filed in 'Energy Issues'
During a “citizen hearing” today in Portland, local health experts, marine fisheries experts, clean energy leaders and conservation advocates, highlighted the public health and economic benefits of the EPA’s new carbon pollution standards for power plants, and urged Maine’s elected leaders, including Senators Collins and King to pledge support for the EPA’s Clean Power Plan. They also highlighted how the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative has helped grow Maine’s clean energy economy.
“The Administration’s carbon pollution standards establish the first ever national limits on industrial carbon pollution from power plants and take an essential step toward protecting public health from the harmful effects of climate change,” said Dr.Lani Graham, Maine Medical Association. “Ignoring the impacts of industrial carbon pollution puts us all, especially children, at risk from asthma attacks and other health impacts associated with air pollution.”
“The sooner we implement the elements of the EPA Power Plant proposal the lower the costs in terms of money, human health, and the environment,” said Casco Baykeeper Joe Payne. “As advocates for Casco Bay we know that lowering emissions from power plants will help protect the health of the bay, the people in the watershed, and the coastal economy.”
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ReEnergy Holdings today announced plans to resume operations at its biomass-to-electricity facility in Ashland, ME.
“We are very pleased to be resuming operations of this critical energy asset,” said ReEnergy Chief Executive Officer Larry D. Richardson. “This will restore jobs, improve forest health, and enhance reliability and stability in the delivery of electricity in northern Maine. This was only possible through the collaboration and support of key stakeholders.”
The 39-megawatt ReEnergy Ashland facility generates renewable energy from responsibly harvested green forest residue biomass and unadulterated wood. It is capable of producing approximately 284,000 MWh of electricity each year — enough to supply nearly 37,000 homes. The facility, which opened in 1993, was acquired by ReEnergy Holdings in December 2011 as part of a multi-facility portfolio purchase from Boralex Industries Inc. It has been idled since March 2011. It is anticipated that the facility will be fully operational by December.
“The reopening of the Ashland biomass facility is welcome news for the important jobs it will restore and the renewable energy it will generate. The forest economy is a tremendous asset in our state and biomass plants like the one in Ashland play a vital role,” said Senator Susan Collins.
The facility has a significant economic impact in northern Maine. The resumption of operations will restore 25 well-paying direct jobs and an estimated 150 indirect jobs associated with the facility, many of them related to the supply of the forest residue fuel supply to the facility and additional jobs tied to local goods and services related to the facility. At full production levels, the facility purchases more than $16 million annually in fuel from local loggers. When considering the payrolls of the direct and indirect jobs along with taxes paid by ReEnergy Ashland, the annual economic impact on the region is well in excess of $20 million.
ReEnergy’s plans to restart the power plant in Ashland is great news for the community,” said Ashland Town Manager Ralph Dwyer. “It will create many well-paying direct jobs at the plant as well as other indirect jobs supplying the facility with biomass fuel. The Town of Ashland appreciates ReEnergy’s commitment to our community and look forward to seeing the plant in operation again.”
ReEnergy has achieved certification to the Sustainable Forestry Initiative® (SFI®) Standard for the facilities that are currently operating in Maine and New York. ReEnergy will seek similar certification for the Ashland facility, and this certification will provide third-party verification that ReEnergy’s biomass procurement program promotes land stewardship and responsible forestry practices. ReEnergy is the first company solely devoted to electricity production to be certified to the SFI Standard.
ReEnergy’s strategy is to own and operate its facilities in regions capable of supplying raw materials while simultaneously ensuring the long-term sustainability of the forests where those facilities are located. The company owns and operates three other biomass-to-energy facilities in Maine: ReEnergy Stratton (48 MW); ReEnergy Livermore Falls (39 MW); and ReEnergy Fort Fairfield (37 MW). ReEnergy also owns and operates a facility in Lewiston that processes construction and demolition material. With Ashland operating, ReEnergy will employ more than 140 people in Maine and support more than 1,000 direct and indirect jobs.
“This is great news for the town of Ashland and another sign of the positive things that are happening in Aroostook County’s forest economy,” said Patrick Strauch, executive director of the Maine Forest Products Council.
Biomass-to-energy offers substantial long-term employment and positive rural economic impacts. With in-state equipment manufacturing, fuel harvesting, processing, and jobs from facility construction to ongoing boiler service, the bioenergy industry contributes significantly to the state’s economy. As a rule of thumb, each megawatt of biomass-fueled electricity supports approximately five full-time jobs: one direct job in the biomass facility, and four indirect jobs in surrounding forests and communities.
The Ashland facility has been idled since March 2011 due to market conditions. The restart has been made possible due to a confluence of factors, including an increased need for electric grid stability in northern Maine, availability of transmission capacity, a growing need for a local outlet for mill and forest residues, and energy market changes.
The facility has been maintained in a manner that will allow for a prompt return to its standard of reliability, but several months of preparation will be necessary to hire and re-hire employees, build fuel supply, and assess and re-tune equipment.
About ReEnergy Holdings:
ReEnergy Holdings LLC, a portfolio company of Riverstone Holdings LLC, owns and/or operates facilities that use forest-derived woody biomass and other waste residues to produce renewable energy. It also owns facilities in New England that recycle construction and demolition debris. ReEnergy was formed in 2008 by affiliates of Riverstone Holdings LLC and a senior management/co-investor team comprised of experienced industry professionals. ReEnergy owns and/or operates nine energy generating facilities with 325 MW of installed renewable energy generation capacity and processes for recycling more than 700,000 tons per year of construction and demolition material. ReEnergy operates in six states and employs more than 300 people.
In an historic vote, the South Portland City Council last night voted 6-1 to pass the Clear Skies Ordinance which will protect the city from a tar sands crude oil terminal. The city developed the ordinance after Protect South Portland’s neighbor-to-neighbor campaign educated and mobilized the community against tar sands over the last year and a half. Conservation groups and South Portland residents gathered to reflect, stating that the victory shows that citizens can overcome out-of-state oil interests. It provides a telling example of how local communities threatened with local impacts of tar sands are saying “No.”
“We may be a small city, but, boy, we’ve done a big thing tonight! The Clear Skies Ordinance protects our air, our coast, and our community,” said Mary-Jane Ferrier, spokesperson for Protect South Portland. “We are absolutely thrilled, relieved, and exhausted. Of course, we know it may not be over yet, and we’re committed to defend this victory from oil industry attacks.”
The Clear Skies Ordinance prohibits the bulk loading of tar sands onto tankers on the waterfront and forbids the construction of infrastructure for that purpose. Bulk loading of tar sands would increase air pollution, including volatile organic compounds and hazardous air pollutants, on the waterfront and surrounding the tanks next to schools and throughout the community. Two 70-foot tall combustion smokestacks on the pier next to Bug Light, such as those previously permitted by the city and state for bulk loading of tar sands, would harm scenic views and property values.
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Tags: Tar Sands in Maine
Statoil Oil is investing $2.5 billion in the Dudgeon Offshore Wind Farm project off the shores off the coast of Norfolk, UK. Statiol’s 30 MW pilot project under construction will consist of five, 6 MW floating turbines operating in waters exceeding 100m of depth. The Pilot Park objectives will demonstrate cost efficient and low risk solutions for commercial scale parks. The project was destined to be in Maine, until Governor Paul LePage got involved. He forced through a bill revoking an agreement between the state of Maine’s Public Utilities Commission and Stratoil to build an offshore wind farm, with help from rate payers. Once the company learned that Gov. LePage would not honor the business agreement they decided to build the wind farm in the UK.
The technology that will be used in the pilot project has been tested in a demonstration project off the coast of Norway and with tests in Boothbay Harbor, Maine. Statoil had plans for four test turbines off Boothbay Harbor. The company pulled out of Maine in October, 2013, saying it would focus its research and development in Scotland, which had a clearer policy on offshore wind energy.
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Congressman Michael Michaud and Congresswoman Chellie Pingree helped restore $9 million in funding for a program that has already invested over $18 million in Maine tidal projects since 2008. Michaud, who had previously led a House effort to support funding for the program, joined Pingree, a member of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, to successfully push for an amendment to the bill that sets spending levels for the Department of Energy. Their amendment, which was also sponsored by Rep. Suzanne Bonamici of Oregon, passed the House today by a wide margin, including the support of dozens of Republicans.
“The Water Power Program supports critical private-sector research, development, deployment and commercialization for marine hydrokinetic energy technology developed here in Maine,” said Michaud. “Other countries have already shown interest, presenting great opportunities for exporting American technology. Now is not the time for a drastic cut to this important program. I look forward to working with the Senate to increase funding even more.
The amendment restores $9 million in cuts to the portion of the Department of Energy budget that funds the Marine and Hyrdokinetic Energy Program. That program promotes research and development of emerging technology that generates clean energy from the nation’s oceans and rivers. Michaud and Pingree’s amendment pays for the restored funding by cutting the budget for the Department of Energy’s administrative expenses.
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Tags: Maine·Tidal Power
The Elmina B. Sewall Foundation awarded a $100,000 grant for an innovative project, called Plants to Products, to promote biobased manufacturing in Maine, which aims to convert sustainably harvested wood chips and agricultural waste into value-added renewable chemicals, biobased plastics, and advanced biofuels.
“We applaud the foundation for investing in Maine’s future – good jobs, safer products, healthier communities, and environmental sustainability,” said Mike Belliveau, executive director of the Environmental Health Strategy Center, nonprofit organization that leads the Plants to Products initiative.
The promise of Plants to Products includes new jobs to revitalize Maine’s rural communities, and new products that slash fossil carbon pollution and replace toxic petrochemicals now used to make most plastics and synthetic materials.
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SAPPI paper mill in Skhowegan, Maine, emits pollutants. Photo by Ramona du Houx
At the direction of President Obama and after an unprecedented outreach effort, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is today releasing the Clean Power Plan proposal, which for the first time cuts carbon pollution from existing power plants, the single largest source of carbon pollution in the United States. Today’s proposal will protect public health, move the United States toward a cleaner environment and fight climate change while supplying Americans with reliable and affordable power.
“Climate change, fueled by carbon pollution, supercharges risks to our health, our economy, and our way of life. EPA is delivering on a vital piece of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan by proposing a Clean Power Plan that will cut harmful carbon pollution from our largest source–power plants,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “By leveraging cleaner energy sources and cutting energy waste, this plan will clean the air we breathe while helping slow climate change so we can leave a safe and healthy future for our kids. We don’t have to choose between a healthy economy and a healthy environment–our action will sharpen America’s competitive edge, spur innovation, and create jobs.”
Power plants account for roughly one-third of all domestic greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. While there are limits in place for the level of arsenic, mercury, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and particle pollution that power plants can emit, there are currently no national limits on carbon pollution levels.
While Maine is part of the New England state’s cap-and-trade carbon tax system, know as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, RGGI, the state is still at the mercy of winds that carry pollution here. RGGI has been very successful bringing over $51,000 million to Maine to help energy efficiency for businesses and citizens.
“The EPA’s plan will allow states like Maine to build on the strong work we’ve already been doing to reduce carbon dioxide emissions,” said Michaud. “Over the last 9 years, emissions from power plants in the nine states participating in the northeast Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative have dropped by more than 40 percent. That is a very important step forward, and this proposal – when taken with Maine’s cutting-edge clean energy initiatives – positions Maine to be a leader in the clean energy sector. That means more jobs, lower utility bills and cleaner air for all Mainers.”
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Recent photo of Brunswick Landing, courtesy photo
The Brunswick Planning Board unanimously approved Bowdoin College plans for a ground-based solar power array on 114 acres of Brunswick Landing, the former Brunswick Naval Air Station.
The panels will be connected to two other solar arrays on the roofs of Bowdoin College buildings. The project is expected to generate 8 percent of Bowdoin’s total current energy use. SolarCity, a national solar energy company, has a 20-year contract to build the system and provide electricity to the College.
The college and SolarCity plan to lobby the Town Council to reduce the mandatory 30-day waiting period so they can break start the project in mid-June with the hope of completion by August.
Solar powered car at ReVision in Maine. Photo by Ramona du Houx
Today, by a solar-powered electric car charging station, a diverse group of business and conservation leaders and citizen electric car owners gathered in Portland to recognize and celebrate the growing use of electric vehicles in Maine, as well as the tremendous benefits these vehicles can bring to our state. With more and more makes and models now available, electric vehicle (EV) ownership is on the rise in Maine. There are now hundreds on the road here, and roughly half of Maine’s EVs are registered in Cumberland County.
“Electric vehicles can and should be an essential part of Maine’s energy future,” said Dylan Voorhees, Clean Energy Director for the Natural Resources Council of Maine. “Nearly everyone agrees that Maine must cut our dependence on oil if we want to sustain a strong economy and confront the increasing threat of severe climate change. It is therefore very exciting to see more and more Mainers putting electric vehicle technology to use to do just that.”
A wide range of plug-in electric vehicles are available today, from all-electric models to “plug-in hybrid” versions, which include significant gasoline engine capacity in addition to a plug-in charged battery. All reduce gasoline consumption and gasoline costs for owners. As a result, conservation groups hail electric vehicles as a major strategy to reduce Maine’s dependence on oil and curb global warming pollution. Stakeholders and EV owners gathered at Revision Energy on Presumpscot Street, which hosts two publicly available charging stations.
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Tags: Solar energy in Maine
ReVison Energy installs solar car battery chargers like this one at their headquarters in Portland. Photo by Ramona du Houx
A solar energy bill that passed through the legislature with overwhelming support became law without his Governor Paul LePage’s signature.
“For a decade lawmakers have worked together in a bipartisan manner to move Maine’s energy policy forward, and we continue to do so with this law,” said Democratic Senator Eloise VItelli of Arrowsic, the sponsor of the bill.“Maine is one of the most oil-dependent states in the country. This law will give the people in our state an opportunity to do something about that.”
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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