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Commentary: Maine’s renewable-energy industry gets a double shot in the arm

Opinion

Major new solar and offshore wind projects help position us as a hub to start, grow and maintain energy businesses.

Maine has incredible natural energy resources that can and should be an engine of its economy. New solar and offshore wind projects help position Maine as a hub to start, grow and maintain energy businesses in a global market. This week, Maine put out the welcome mat and opened the door to being a leader in clean energy.

First, two solar development companies on both sides of the Atlantic joined forces to advance projects to generate 350 megawatts of renewable energy capacity across eight Maine communities. The international partnership between European Union-based BNRG Renewables and Portland’s Dirigo Solar LLC is moving forward with large-scale solar projects to produce enough electricity to power 78,000 homes.

The next day, a $100 million joint venture publicly emerged to develop floating offshore wind technology off the coast of Maine, potentially bringing tremendous economic, energy and environmental benefits to Maine’s coastal regions and the state. The public-private partnership includes Maine’s flagship educational institution, the University of Maine, and New England Aqua Ventus LLC, a collaboration between technology giant Mitsubishi Corp. and the second largest offshore wind company in the world, RWE Renewables. According to a joint statement by Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King and Reps. Chellie Pingree and Jared Golden: “Maine’s offshore wind resource potential is 36 times greater than the state’s electricity demand, making this project so significant for Maine’s clean energy future.”

Read the full Op-Ed in the Portland Press Herald here.

The Maine Climate Council: What You Need to Know Webinar

May 27, 2020, 12:00 – 1:30 p.m.

Despite the public health crisis, the Maine Climate Council has continued its important work developing a climate action plan for Maine. The Climate Council’s six working groups have been meeting virtually over the last few months to develop their recommendations to reduce Maine’s greenhouse gas emissions at least 80% by 2050, a target set it Maine law.

Please join Acadia Center and our partners for a Zoom webinar to hear from Maine Climate Council working group members about strategies they are developing to help Maine meet its climate goals and how you can take action. In addition to Working Group updates on forests, power and utilities, transportation, Acadia Center’s Jeff Marks will be presenting on the strategies being considered by the Buildings, Infrastructure, and Housing Working Group. Register to attend here.

Maine should take part in regional effort to cut transportation pollution

The Transportation and Climate Initiative will deliver economic, health and environmental benefits.

As Mainers take to the roads, skies and tracks for the holidays, ‘tis the season to contemplate resolutions for the New Year and beyond. While most envision exercising more, quitting smoking or spending more time with loved ones, Gov. Mills, the Maine Legislature and the Maine Climate Council are grappling with how to reduce the state’s climate pollution and transportation costs in an economical, efficient and equitable manner.

Read the full article from the Portland Press Herald here.

Maine undecided on joining regional plan to reduce vehicle pollution

The transportation program is based on the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a 2009 agreement to cap and trade power plant carbon emissions in nine Northeast states including Maine. Since its inception, CO2 emissions from power plants fell 47 percent, according to an analysis by the Acadia Center, a clean energy research group.

Read the full article from Central Maine here.

Acadia Center Applauds Regional Coordination to Reduce Tailpipe Pollution, Urges Ambitious, Equitable Action

TCI Announcement Demonstrates Benefits of Transition to Clean Transportation, Highlights Need for Strong Program

BOSTON — Today, 12 states and the District of Columbia announced the details of a new, regional program to cut tailpipe pollution while delivering much needed investment in clean, equitable, modern transportation options. Working together through the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI), these jurisdictions[1] have developed a multi-state cap-and-invest program to address rising transportation emissions and the need for greater investment in a clean transportation future.

Launching this program will be a major accomplishment at a substantial scale: the TCI region, were it a single country, would represent the world’s third largest economy.

“States are leading the way with subnational action on climate,” said Daniel Sosland, Acadia Center’s President. “By working together, this region can achieve globally significant carbon reductions while delivering billions of dollars each year for grants and investments to help every community thrive. From rural towns to the region’s biggest cities, TCI can fund investments to make better transportation options more accessible, affordable, and reliable.”

Along with the policy details in the draft Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), the TCI jurisdictions released modeling results demonstrating that regional action to reduce transportation pollution will deliver economic, health, and environmental benefits. Under the most ambitious policy analyzed, the region would see the following impacts in 2032:

The modeling makes it clear that launching a TCI program will be a tremendous step forward if the participating jurisdictions implement an ambitious emissions cap. As the modeling shows, each increasingly more ambitious policy scenario delivers greater health savings and more resources for clean, equitable transportation investment.

Given these findings, the TCI states should establish a cap that declines by at least 25% from 2022 to 2032, if not more. Of the policy scenarios analyzed, the 25% cap comes closest to ensuring the necessary cuts in transportation pollution to meet state economy-wide climate requirements. While the 25% cap would represent progress, the TCI jurisdictions have an opportunity to chart an even bolder path; a more ambitious emissions cap will ensure that participating states meet their climate requirements while delivering greater health savings and enabling more transformational investments. Those investments in public transit, electric vehicles, active mobility, and other clean transportation projects will provide greater access to the clean, affordable, reliable transportation options that this region needs.

The importance of strategic investment has been demonstrated through the region’s experience with the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). The investment of over $3 billion in RGGI auction proceeds has helped participating states become national leaders on energy efficiency while creating high quality, local jobs. Those RGGI-funded investments have contributed to the fact that electricity prices in the RGGI states have declined since the program launched, while prices have increased in the rest of the country.

Through TCI, states in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic can build on RGGI’s success while improving the model. Investments funded by TCI must be dedicated to reducing pollution and delivering a more equitable transportation system, and complementary policies will be essential to the rapid and just transition to a clean transportation future.

“Investment in better transportation options while reducing tailpipe pollution is a winning combination,” said Jordan Stutt, Carbon Programs Director. “Acadia Center applauds the TCI jurisdictions for developing this program, and we call on every participating Governor to ensure that the program is both robust and equitable; the program’s success will be determined by their ambition.”

[1] The TCI jurisdictions are: Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Washington, D.C.


Media Contacts

MA and Regional
Jordan Stutt, Carbon Programs Director
jstutt@acadiacenter.org, 617-742-0054 x105

Connecticut
Amy McLean Salls, Connecticut Director and Senior Policy Advocate
amcleansalls@acadiacenter.org, 860-246-7121 x204

Rhode Island
Hank Webster, Rhode Island Director and Staff Attorney
hwebster@acadiacenter.org, 401-276-0600 x402

Maine
Jeff Marks, Maine Director & Senior Policy Advocate
jmarks@acadiacenter.org, 207-236-6470 x304

Governor Mills Signs Legislation to Advance Maine’s Clean Energy Economy and Climate Safety

Acadia Center Applauds Strong Suite of Climate and Clean Energy Actions

AUGUSTA, Maine – Maine’s most ambitious bills to fight climate change in a decade are now law. Today, Governor Mills signed three bills that will put Maine on track to 100% renewable energy by 2050, create an innovative Climate Council that allows voices from around the state to have a say in fighting climate change, expand access to renewable energy and put communities on the path to become energy independent. These join a suite of complementary bills that Governor Mills has signed into law since taking office, which reverse years of inaction and promise to advance the fight against climate change and bring the benefits of the clean energy economy to the people of Maine.

“For so long, Mainers have watched while other New England states invest in solar, wind, and large-scale procurements that reduce their dependence on foreign oil, lower consumer costs and provide cleaner and healthier power – now Maine will be a leader in creating jobs, saving money on energy bills and tackling the climate crisis using resources here at home,” said Daniel Sosland, Acadia Center President.

The bills signed today are An Act to Promote Clean Energy Jobs and to Establish the Maine Climate Council (L.D. 1679), An Act to Reform Maine’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (L.D. 1494), and An Act to Promote Solar Energy Projects and Distributed Generation Resources in Maine (L.D. 1711). They follow three other groundbreaking energy laws passed this month with bipartisan support.

Since the beginning of 2019, Governor Mills has signed legislation to restart a stalled offshore wind procurement process, install 100,000 clean and energy-efficient heat pumps in homes around the state in the next five years, create a fund to support rebates for the lease or purchase of an electric vehicle, expand training programs to build the clean energy workforce and address a suite of electric grid modernization initiatives, from energy storage to non-wires alternative solutions.

Altogether, these actions represent a remarkable turnaround in the leadership’s commitment to tackling the climate crisis and bringing the benefits of energy efficiency and clean energy to Maine. As neighboring states have demonstrated, the clean energy economy creates high-paying local jobs, saves consumers money and improves health and air quality by reducing the use of polluting fossil fuels.

“Acadia Center’s Building a Stronger Maine policy blueprint, submitted to the next governor at the end of 2018, laid out five critical areas where Maine needed to modernize its transportation and energy systems in order to address climate change and stay competitive in the New England region,” said Arah Schuur, Vice President – Climate and Energy at Acadia Center. “It should gratify all Mainers to see bipartisan support that takes concrete steps in each of these areas. Acadia Center applauds Governor Mills and the Maine Legislature for their swift action on clean energy.”

CMP sweetens the deal, picks up support from Mills and others for $950M project

Central Maine Power announced this morning it has signed a stipulation asking the Maine Public Utilities Commission to authorize its $950 million transmission project to deliver Canadian hydropower through Maine to Massachusetts.

The proposed settlement includes conditions that Acadia Center and Conservation Law Foundation sought directly from CMP under a Jan. 30 memorandum of understanding signed by CMP President and CEO Doug Herling and CMP Vice President, Treasurer and Controller Eric Stinneford.

Read the full article from Maine Biz here.

Conditions Reached on Hydropower Line Seek a Shift to Clean Energy in Maine

Acadia Center continues to push for more climate, clean energy and consumer benefits

ROCKPORT, ME – Parties in a proceeding reviewing whether the Maine PUC should issue a certificate for Central Maine Power’s proposed hydropower line through Maine have entered into a settlement that requires significant consumer and clean energy commitments. Acadia Center engaged in the settlement negotiations as a means to seek increased cooperation from CMP in transitioning to a clean energy future. The settlement provisions submitted to the Maine PUC today incorporate conditions that Acadia Center and Conservation Law Foundation sought directly from CMP under a Memorandum of Understanding.  The MOU provisions are necessary to advance climate and clean energy efforts in Maine, amplify benefits for the state, and address changes needed at CMP.

“The greatest threat to Maine’s forest and traditions like fisheries and winter recreation is a warming climate,” noted Acadia Center president, Daniel Sosland. “Maine’s utilities must realign their management practices to support a rapid shift from fossil fuels like oil and natural gas to sources that produce less climate pollution, such as solar, wind and many kinds of hydropower. It is past time for CMP to embrace clean energy and climate efforts, not obstruct them. The provisions in this settlement begin to take steps in that direction.”

The settlement will deliver consumer and community benefits to Mainers ranging from energy efficiency for low-income households, general rate relief, expansion of broadband infrastructure, and support for impacted host communities. Under the provisions of the Memorandum of Understanding, CMP will begin to adopt more clean energy, resilience and other consumer-friendly and clean transportation measures for Maine. The proposed settlement only applies to the PUC-issued certificate and will be subject to further review.  Issues addressing critical siting and land use impacts are being addressed in separate proceedings at the DEP.

Acadia Center believes that the project proponents must avoid, minimize or mitigate land use impacts and ensure clear, transparent accounting to verify regional climate benefits. Further, Acadia Center believes that CMP, Avangrid and its parent company Iberdrola must build on the commitments in the MOU and the settlement and move away from prior positions such as blocking expansion of solar and other clean energy technologies that will benefit Maine’s communities, homes and businesses.

Acadia Center’s full statement on the New England Clean Energy Connect: https://acadiacenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Acadia-Center-Statement-NECEC-Line_2019-02-21.pdf 

Memorandum of Understanding between Acadia Center, CLF, and CMP: https://acadiacenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/CLF-and-Acadia-Center-NECEC-Settlement-MOU-EXECUTED-VERSION-W7100223x7AC2E.pdf 

Text of the Settlement: https://acadiacenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/NECEC-CMP-Stipulation.pdf 


Media Contacts:

Krysia Wazny McClain, Communications Director
kwazny@acadiacenter.org, 207-236-6470 x107

Deborah Donovan, Senior Policy Advocate
ddonovan@acadiacenter.org, 617-742-0054 x103

The Northeast is poised to regain momentum on clean energy

A bloc of states from Maine to New Jersey are stitched together by shared power sources and an interdependent set of economies, highways, and waterways. They moved in unison in the earliest throes of clean energy policy. But in recent years, politics has peeled off some while others have surged ahead.

Now some of the smallest and most unlikely players are helping to get everyone moving together again.

Read the full article from Yale Climate Connections here.

Sea Change: Maine should act more like the renewable energy dynamo it is

The fastest-growing sources of electricity generation in the coming two years will be solar and wind, a federal report projects, as prices keep dropping and new projects come online.

These power sources are gaining ground wherever they’re allowed to take hold. In a vivid example of “what’s possible when you infuse a can-do spirit with policy,” Massachusetts has “blown past” goals once thought unrealistic, says John Rogers, a senior energy analyst with the Union of Concerned Scientists, a nonprofit science advocacy organization. Massachusetts now has nearly six times more solar power installed per person than Maine, according to the Acadia Center, a nonprofit promoting clean-energy efforts (see chart).

Read the full article from the Times Record here.