Entries Filed in 'Energy Issues'

South Portland City Council votes 6-1 to protect the city from a tar sands crude oil terminal

July 22nd, 2014 · No Comments · Economy, Energy Issues, Environment

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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Statoil pumps $2.5 billion in UK offshore floating wind project instead of Maine

July 15th, 2014 · No Comments · Business & Innovation, Energy Issues, Environment, Issue 41

Hywind Scotland Park Overview, courtesy of Stratiol

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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Michaud and Pingree help restore funding for tidal power in Federal Spending Bill

July 11th, 2014 · No Comments · Business & Innovation, Community Maine, Energy Issues

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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$100 thousand grant award supports environmental sustainable economic development strategy for Maine

June 5th, 2014 · No Comments · Business & Innovation, Creative Economy, Energy Issues, Environment, Issue 41

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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EPA proposes first guidelines to cut carbon pollution from existing power plants- Maine already has RGGI

June 2nd, 2014 · No Comments · Community Maine, Energy Issues, Environment, Maine's green energy potential, News from Washington

SAPPI paper mill in Skhowegan, Maine, emits pollutants. Photo by Ramona du Houx

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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Approval of plan to install solar panels on 114 acres at Brunswick Landing, the former Navy base

May 30th, 2014 · No Comments · Business & Innovation, Community Maine, Energy Issues, Maine's green energy potential

Recent photo of Brunswick Landing, courtesy photo

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.

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Community leaders herald increase in use benefits of Electric Cars in Maine

May 29th, 2014 · No Comments · Energy Issues, Environment, Maine's green energy potential

Solar powered car at ReVision in Maine.  Photo by Ramona du Houx

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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Solar Energy bill becomes law without Gov. LePage’s signature

April 24th, 2014 · No Comments · Business & Innovation, Capitol news, Community Maine, Energy Issues, Environment, Issue 40

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

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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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 · 1 Comment · 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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