Energy Independence
"As municipal decision makers, it is important for us to be stewards of our towns’ budgets and resources. Solar power helps stabilize energy costs for years into the future — the savings go into pockets of local taxpayers and back into our economy. More Maine towns deserve this opportunity."
—Samantha Paradis, Mayor of Belfast, Maine
Securing Maines Future Web

Maine people value independence, including the freedom to generate our own power. A forward-thinking energy system based on renewable, sustainable sources can support thousands of technical jobs while giving Maine families and businesses energy security and stability. We can do more to take charge of our energy production, lower energy costs, create good-paying jobs, and reduce the climate-changing carbon pollution that is threatening our way of life.

Why unplug from fossil fuels?

Clean energy gives us independence and control over our energy sources. Maine is one of the most petroleum-dependent states in the nation, consuming more oil per person than anywhere else in New England. The average annual cost of energy in Maine is $3,968 per person, which means that every year, billions of dollars are sent out of state for the purchase of fossil fuels. Unplugging from fossil fuels and generating our energy locally will reduce our dependence on imports that leave us vulnerable to dramatic fluctuations in price and availability.

Carbon pollution from fossil fuels is disrupting our climate and compromising our health. Warmer temperatures and erratic weather patterns are putting the livelihoods of Maine farmers and fishermen at risk while increased pollen, higher ozone levels, and extreme heat are making our air less healthy to breathe. Passenger vehicle emissions alone were responsible for $500 million in health costs in Maine in 2015. Warmer temperatures have also expanded the range of deer ticks. Since 1991, the incidence of tickborne Lyme disease in the United States has doubled, with Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont experiencing the largest increases.

Modernizing and localizing our energy system will bring good-paying energy jobs home to Maine. Maine has significant solar, tidal, and off-shore wind energy potential. These unique natural resources provide a tremendous opportunity and economic advantage for clean energy production. Since 2012, solar employment has grown nine times faster than the rest of the U.S. economy while investments in renewable energy are creating three times more jobs than the same investment in fossil fuels. Clean energy jobs are local jobs that cannot be outsourced, with wages that exceed the national median. Maine has the potential to be a leading clean energy producer in the region and experience tremendous economic growth as a result.

Threats to energy independence

Maine’s energy and transportation systems are outdated and heavily reliant on fossil fuels, particularly oil. Cars and trucks are now the leading source of carbon pollution in Maine, yet more than 80% of commerce is done by truck. At the same time, nearly two-thirds of Maine households use fuel oil as their primary source for home heating – a higher share than any other state. Dependence on dirty fuels makes it difficult to break the cycle of pollution that is changing our climate and putting our health and traditional economies at risk.

Maine has been missing opportunities to innovate and grow our clean energy economy. While other states have made significant investments in renewables like solar, Maine has allowed opportunities to lower energy costs and expand our clean energy economy pass us by. Utilities have successfully blocked changes to Maine’s energy policies that would have improved the feasibility of community solar projects and incentivized rooftop solar for homes and businesses. Only one quarter of one percent of the state’s power comes from solar.

Federal policy shifts could keep us tied to the gas pump, especially in rural Maine. The Environmental Protection Agency has announced plans to weaken clean car standards that would improve fuel efficiency and reduce vehicle emissions. The result will be more pollution, higher fuel costs, ongoing dependence on foreign oil, and the missed opportunity to create jobs in clean energy innovations. This takes us in the wrong direction and Maine’s rural communities, where transportation options are more limited, will be hardest hit.

Policy Priority:

Clean & Local Energy

Maine is falling way behind on solar, and the price of inaction is steep. Despite dramatic reductions in the cost of solar, Maine is now the only state in the Northeast without a comprehensive solar policy.

It’s time to build a stable and secure energy system that includes solar power and energy storage. We can take charge of our energy production by making innovative, common sense updates to Maine’s energy policies and systems and put Maine people back in the drivers’ seat. Modernizing our electric grid and Renewable Portfolio Standard will provide the backbone that supports clean energy, less carbon pollution, better health and productivity, and municipal tax savings.

By 2022, Maine needs to…

  • be on the path to 100% clean energy – generated in Maine for the people of Maine - so that we have achieved 100% clean energy by 2050.
  • invest in renewable, inexhaustible energy sources, like solar, tidal, and deep-water wind.
  • modernize our energy policies and systems with a focus on
    • local, flexible, small-scale, and distributed energy projects, like community solar, and
    • affordability tools, like low-interest loans and tax incentives, which level the playing field so renewables can compete fairly with energy produced from fossil fuels.

More opportunities for energy independence

The easiest way to reduce energy costs is to make our buildings and vehicles more efficient. Energy efficiency is already a growth industry in Maine, employing almost 9,000 people in 2016. Focusing on energy efficiency has the potential to reduce Maine’s overall energy needs by up to 21% and save almost $4 for every $1 invested. We can make it easier for individuals and businesses to choose and benefit from energy efficient options, including insulation, lighting, heating and cooling systems. We can make new buildings more efficient by improving construction standards for residential and commercial developments. And we can prevent roll-backs to fuel economy and emissions standards for cars and light-duty trucks.

Electric vehicles are the way of the future and Maine could be at the forefront. As battery ranges have increased and prices have fallen, electric vehicle ownership is on the rise in Maine and our electric vehicle infrastructure is expanding to keep pace. Today there are more than 100 charging stations around the state – from Calais to Rangeley and Greenville to York. The Volkswagen Settlement is pumping $2 billion nationwide into electric vehicle infrastructure, including more than $3 million in Maine. Ten states, including Maine, have adopted California’s zero-emissions vehicle (ZEV) standard.

Modernizing Maine’s rail network and public transportation system offers a better way to move people and products. Moving freight by rail is four times more fuel efficient than highway transport while a robust public transportation system can reduce the environmental impact of workday commutes and congestion. Modernizing and expanding our rail, bus, and ferry network will create give businesses greater access to workers while connected communities will benefit from less congestion, healthier air, new economic development, and affordable transportation options for residents of all ages. A model similar to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which has helped cut carbon emissions from power plants in nine Northeast states by nearly 50 percent, is now being considered for modernizing the region’s outdated transportation system.