Entries Filed in 'Maine’s green energy potential'
Under a new deal, unveiled in Beijing, China by President Barack Obama and President Xi, China, committed to cap its output of carbon pollution by 2030. The Chinese government also promised to increase its use of zero-emission energy sources, such as wind and solar power, to 20 percent by 2030. The United States agreed to double the pace of the cuts in its emissions, reducing them to between 26 percent and 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025.
The agreement between the US and China to lower greenhouse-gas output faced a wall of opposition stateside from Republicans in Washington, who threatened to use their control of Congress to stop the plan. But the White House made it clear that the US can deliver the promised reductions in greenhouse gas emissions through existing regulations, including the Environmental Protection Agency’s new rules for power plants, which are the core of President Obama’s climate agenda.
Under the Baldacci administration Maine helped spearhead the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, RGGI, which is the first cap-n-trade carbon reduction plan on the East Coast. RGGI has become a model for carbon reduction in the USA. REGGI generates savings in each of the states participating. In Maine those funds are being used to help with energy saving initiatives for consumers as well as businesses. To date RGGI has earned $257 million for these programs.
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Tags: climate change deal
The Obama administration, on September 18th, 2014, announced that it would dedicate nearly $70 million in funding toward bringing more solar power to homes and businesses, and improving energy efficiency in rural areas.
The $68 million in federal funds will go to 540 energy efficiency projects in rural areas across the country, 240 of which will be for solar power. Along with the funding, the White House also announced a slew of executive actions, private and public sector commitments, and initiatives from different federal agencies, including one from the Department of Energy to train at least 50,000 veterans to become solar panel installers in the next six years.
The White House estimates that all of the new programs will cut carbon pollution by more than 60 million metric tons every year, the equivalent of taking about 12 million cars off the road annually. By 2030, the programs would result in carbon pollution cuts of approximately 300 million metric tons, the equivalent of 63 million cars.
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Wind turbine project approved by Hancock County Commissioners September 12th will generate $11 million in property tax revenue for the county over a 30-year period agreement.
The commission voted 2-1 in approval of a tax increment financing (TIF) district for the project, which will install 17 turbines, at 500 feet tall, with a 3-megawatt capacity in Townships 22 and 16. Of the $11 million in property tax revenue, Hancock County will keep $5.82 million, while the rest will go to Hancock Wind, a First Wind subsidiary.
The agreement allows Hancock Wind to retain 70 percent of its annual tax payments to the county for the next 20 years, but for the last 10 years of the agreement the county will receive 100 percent of the tax revenue.
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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
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.
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.
Tags: Solar energy in 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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Tags: Solar Power in Maine
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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Tags: Solar energy in Maine