AUGUSTA — Today, the Maine Legislature enacted LD 1682 – An Act To Require Consideration of Climate Impacts by the Public Utilities Commission and To Incorporate Equity Considerations in Decision-making by State Agencies, empowering the Maine Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to make decisions that support greenhouse gas emission reductions as part of its primary mission. In addition, LD 1682 elevates “equity” across state government to help mitigate energy burdens on environmental justice and frontline communities and utility customers.
Daniel L. Sosland President of Acadia Center said, “With this legislation, Maine has taken a leadership role in updating the scope and mandate of the Maine PUC to be responsive to the need to address climate and equity”. “LD 1682 opens the door for state agencies to issue decisions that reflect the needs of all residents of Maine by ensuring a climate safe future and addressing equity concerns in environmental justice, frontline, rural and other vulnerable communities that are underserved or overburdened by current energy policies and systems due to geography, race, income and other factors.”
Few state agencies have more impact on more Mainers’ daily lives than the PUC. The Maine PUC regulates electric, gas, and water utilities’ rates and services and provides oversight to monopolies Central Maine Power and Versant Power, who collectively serve more than 795,000 electricity customers over 22,000 square miles from Fort Kent to Kittery. LD 1682 reforms the PUC’s mandate to require it to consider greenhouse gas reductions and compliance with Maine’s climate statute in its decision-making.
Jeff Marks, Maine Director & Senior Policy Advocate said, “State agencies like the PUC must start prioritizing climate now to help create efficient buildings and electrified transportation, powered by clean, renewable energy. LD 1682 gives the PUC the tools to do so and sets Maine on a course to do it equitably for all.” Maine’s energy economy is in transition. The massive capital and planning necessary to transform buildings, transportation, and the electricity grid over the next three decades necessitates state government reforms to help expand heating and transportation electrification; increase clean energy generation, storage, and delivery of offshore wind, solar, and other renewables; and oversee innovative utility innovation and grid modernization.
Instead of choosing the cheapest solution in the moment, the PUC can choose the best solution for both today’s and tomorrow’s ratepayers and require utilities to provide more innovative services to address one of the greatest crises of our time. This creates the impetus for even greater reform across state government so that agency actions are no longer roadblocks to equitable climate solutions.
This legislation enjoys broad public support. The Energy, Utilities, and Technology Committee approved LD 1682 on May 28, after a public hearing with no opposing testimony and backing from the Maine Governor’s Energy Office, Governor’s Office of Policy Innovation and the Future, Maine Youth for Climate Justice, The Nature Conservancy, Island Institute, Central Maine Power, Conservation Law Foundation, Penobscot Nation, Cities of Portland & South Portland among others.
“Acadia Center thanks Rep. Vicki Doudera for sponsoring this bill, which puts the “action” in Maine’s new Climate Action Plan, and for working collaboratively and tirelessly to ensure the enactment of LD 1682,” said Jeff Marks. We now ask that Governor Janet Mills sign the bill soon. Acadia Center looks forward to working with the Governor’s Office of Policy Innovation and the Future, state agencies, legislators, and the public to evaluate how to elevate and change the way state government considers equity in key regulatory and programmatic decisions.
Jeff Marks, Maine Director & Senior Policy Advocate
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