Entries Filed in 'Maine’s green energy potential'

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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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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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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Largest thermal solar power plant in the world opens in USA with help of DoE

February 16th, 2014 · No Comments · Economy, Energy Issues, Maine's green energy potential

Brightsource photo

Brightsource photo

The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System in the Mojave Desert opened on February 13, 2014 as the largest thermal solar power plant of its type in the world. The facility can produce nearly 400 megawatts—enough power for 140,000 homes. It includes 173,500 mirrors that follow the sun’s trajectory to create steam power for the generators.

“We see Ivanpah changing the energy landscape by proving that utility-scale solar is not only possible, but incredibly beneficial to both the economy and in how we produce and consume energy,” said Tom Doyle, president of NRG Solar in a release.

The Ivanpah project, which is a joint effort between NRG Solar, Google, and BrightSource Energy, received a $1.6 billion loan guarantee from the US Department of Energy.

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Maine Last in Solar Capacity

February 12th, 2014 · No Comments · Business & Innovation, Energy Issues, Environment, Maine's green energy potential

Maine places last in the New England region when it comes to solar capacity. Environmentalists and renewable energy industry representatives met at the end of January to voice their concerns at a hearing for LD 1652, a bill aiming to address the solar capacity gap.

If LD 1652 passes, a bill sponsored by Sen. Eloise Vitelli (D-Sagadahoc), Maine would be set on a path to match Massachusetts in solar capacity by setting a state goal to generate 40 megawatts of solar energy by 2016 and 200 megawatts by 2020, powering 30,000 Maine homes.

Maine installed 2.2 MW in 2012, while New Hampshire doubled Maine with 4.2 MW, and Massachusetts installed 31 MW.

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RGGI: Northeast Greenhouse Gas Initiative is a model for the Nation

February 12th, 2014 · No Comments · Business & Innovation, Economy, Energy Issues, Maine's green energy potential

Continuing their efforts to combat climate change, Congresswomen Annie Kuster (NH-02) and Niki Tsongas (MA-03) led a group of northeast lawmakers calling on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to look to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) as a model for their efforts to curb carbon pollution across the country.

RGGI is a cooperative effort among New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Maine, Vermont, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, Delaware, and Maryland to reduce carbon pollution from power plants, a key driver of climate change. Since the program took effect in 2005, the RGGI states have seen a 40 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions, and they are on track to reduce emissions to half of 2005 levels by 2020.

In Maine RGGI has brought in over $30 million to help weatherization and other cost saving energy efficient methods for businesses and consumers. RGGI had unanimous bipartisan support when signed into law under Governor John Baldacci.

In a recent letter sent to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, Kuster, Tsongas and 39 other northeast lawmakers cited RGGI as a proven model for cutting carbon pollution and driving economic development, while protecting the public’s health and our environment.

“Maine has everything to gain and nothing to lose from these power plant pollution standards,” said Bonnie Frye Hemphill of the Natural Resources Council of Maine. “Mainers get stuck breathing the air from dirty coal plants in upwind states. While Maine and the Northeast have already taken concrete action to reduce power plant pollution, including through RGGI the new EPA rules will ensure power plants across the country follow our lead.”

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Wind energy can protect against spikes in electricity prices

January 23rd, 2014 · No Comments · Business & Innovation, Community Maine, Energy Issues, Environment, Maine's green energy potential

Maine consumers are facing increasing costs for electricity. Wind energy can help to reduce those costs.

The Maine Public Utilities Commission announced this week that the standard offer price for electricity in Maine in both the CMP and Emera Maine services areas will increase by more than 10 percent for next year.

“Mainers’ energy costs are going up because the price for natural gas is volatile and difficult to predict. Wind energy, particularly through the use of long-term contracts, can reduce the impact of the volatility from the natural gas market, protect consumers from price spikes and lessen our dependency on a single fuel for electricity production,” said Ian Grady, a spokesperson for Wind for Maine. “Right now, New England relies heavily on natural gas, and we’re paying the price every month in our electric bills.”

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