By Ramona du Houx

May 16, 2021

Rep. Paige Zeigler, D-Montville, introduced a bill on May 12, 2021 to create the Maine Clean Energy and Sustainability Accelerator, also known as a “green bank,” before the Legislature’s Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee.

“Many families and businesses in Maine would like to invest in weatherization projects or transition to renewable energy sources, but they simply can’t afford to do so,” said Rep. Zeigler. “The bill I am proposing to create the Maine Clean Energy and Sustainability Accelerator would give more Mainers the financial ability reduce their emissions while saving thousands of dollars in energy costs in the long run.”

The legislation, LD 1659, would support the development of clean energy and sustainability projects by giving Efficiency Maine the ability to partner with local banks, credit unions and other lenders to assist homeowners and small business owners with loans for clean energy projects.

Efficiency Maine was established during the John Baldacci administration in order to help the people of Maine, and businesses become energy efficient. The agency utilizes funding from benefits received by Maine’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).

“The biggest barrier to efficiency and clean energy projects is the upfront cost,” said David Gibson, a Morrill resident and representative from Sierra Club Maine. “Most projects will pay for themselves in less than 15 years, offering a solid return on investment. The intent of this legislation is to both increase the availability of financing and decrease the interest rates, making financing widely available for efficiency, clean energy and other climate solutions.”

On the federal level, the U.S. Congress is considering a bipartisan bill to send up to $100 billion to states to assist with clean energy projects. With Zeigler’s proposed legislation, Maine would be prepared to distribute those funds to families and businesses through Efficiency Maine. Both the federal and state legislation stipulate that at least 40% of the monies distributed through the Clean Energy and Sustainability Accelerator go to low-income individuals and families.

The Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee will hold a work session on LD 1659 in the coming weeks.

Rep. Zeigler serves on the Environment and Natural Resources Committee and the Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee. He is in his third term in the Maine House of Representatives, representing the towns of Belmont, Liberty, Lincolnville, Montville, Morrill, Palermo and Searsmont.

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