Maine's future prosperity is powered by clean energy

Creating a clean energy future for Maine is an investment in our economy, our quality of life, and the long-term sustainability of our environment.

vision-icon.png A Vision for a Clean Energy Future

Maine can lead the way in building a clean energy infrastructure that supports our families and our businesses. We can repower our industry, building, and transportation systems by burning less oil, gas, and coal and using cleaner, more effective, and affordable energy sources that are renewable and sustainable. We can make our homes more comfortable; we can breathe healthier air; and we can spend less money on energy – keeping more of our money in Maine’s economy and making our businesses more profitable. Maine’s leadership can help slow climate change and reduce the pollution that harms our forests, waters, and other natural resources. A clean energy future for Maine means more good jobs and stronger communities.

today-icon.png Today in Maine

Maine is home to important and unique natural resources that provide the opportunity to build a clean energy future. Maine has significant wind, solar, and ocean energy potential, as well as opportunities to develop alternative fuels for transportation that are lower in carbon content, like natural gas, plug-in electric, bio-butanol, and bio-methane. Maine could become a leading clean energy producer in the region, meaning more jobs and stronger local economies across the state.

Unfortunately, Maine’s energy and transportation systems are heavily reliant on fossil fuels, particularly oil, which are the primary sources of Maine’s climate change pollution. Dependence on these dirty fuels makes it difficult to break the cycle of pollution that puts Maine’s people, wildlife, and environment at risk. Today in Maine over 80% of commerce is still done by truck because Maine lacks adequate water and freight train routes. Despite policies adopted in the legislature in recent years, Maine lags behind the rest of New England in efforts to improve energy efficiency.

Maine people recognize the importance of clean energy policies. In a statewide survey conducted in November 2009, 85% of respondents said it is important for Maine lawmakers to take action over the next five years to improve Maine’s energy policies.

needed-icon.png What's Needed

Maine’s clean energy future can only happen with strong partnerships and collaboration between policymakers, businesses, and the people of every Maine community. The path ahead will require efficiency and conservation efforts, development of renewable energy sources, engagement in regional initiatives, and significant changes in our transportation and land development systems.

In the next five years, we need to prioritize energy efficiency – the most cost-effective energy choice available – and make it easier for individuals and businesses to find, implement, and be rewarded for choosing energy efficient options. We need to sustain efforts to weatherize many more Maine homes and make sure new buildings are constructed to high-efficiency standards.

Maine’s renewable energy potential is strong. In the next five years we need to expand our use of well-planned and appropriately sited wind projects, including getting Maine’s off-shore wind-testing sites up and running, in order to meet our 2015 goal of 2,000 megawatts of wind power. Maine also needs responsible transmission solutions that support a shift to renewable energy without endangering the North Woods or other natural resources. Biomass energy, whether for co-generation or for pellet heating, might play a role in Maine’s energy future, but it must be based on sustainable and healthy practices to balance energy benefits with public health and natural resource protection.

Maine’s transportation system needs an overhaul. We need to reduce our transportation miles through the increased use of carpooling and public transportation. Our commercial transportation systems can be improved by investing in water and train freight routes. We also need to transition to a low-carbon transportation system and greater use of cleaner, more efficient vehicles and low-carbon fuels.

EPC Report 2010 Clean Energy 2

 

hiking-action-icon.png Take Action

The next five years offer a critical window of opportunity for Maine to lay the foundation for a clean energy future that makes us less dependent on fossil fuels, creates good jobs, and protects the health of people and wildlife. There are specific actions that Maine lawmakers must take to make this vision a reality.

Efficiency and Conservation

  • Engage Maine households, businesses, youth, and community organizations in energy efficiency and conservation efforts with leadership from the Governor and the Efficiency Maine Trust
  • Create partnerships with municipalities and businesses to ensure that every Maine town with 2,000 or more residents conforms to Maine’s newest building codes
  • Fund the Efficiency Maine Trust triennial plan so that it can capture all achievable, cost-effective electric and natural gas efficiencies, and sustain its heating fuel efficiency programs
  • Create a regulatory framework and improve construction standards for large-scale developments to ensure they are energy efficient, appropriately located, and minimize climate change pollution

Renewable Energy

  • Convene municipalities, developers, citizens, and other stakeholders to develop additional onshore wind power that is appropriately sited and addresses environmental and local concerns
  • Develop Maine’s offshore energy resources in ways that are protective of fisheries and coastal resources
  • Establish enforceable sustainability standards for biomass energy resources wherever biomass receives preferential treatment such as subsidies or incentives
  • Encourage development of smaller, distributed (point-of-use) renewable energy, such as solar, through mechanisms like a robust smart grid, feed-in tariffs, and net-metering

Transportation

  • Allocate resources within the Department of Transportation to invest in water, rail, fixed guideway, bus, bicycle, pedestrian, and other alternative transportation systems
  • Implement the Northeast Mid-Atlantic low carbon fuel standard in 2011
  • Utilize tax policies that reward the next generation of high-efficiency and low-carbon vehicles

Federal legislation

  • Pass the Sensible Transportation Policy Act
  • Pass comprehensive climate change and clean energy legislation