Investment in local clean energy projects and jobs would see a big boost under a bill that received a public hearing today at Maine’s Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee.
L.D.1494, sponsored by State Sen. Eloise Vitelli, D-Sagadahoc, would expand Maine’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS) by increasing the proportion of renewable electricity sold in the state from 40% to 80% by 2030.
“We cannot wait any longer to address climate change, and reducing our carbon emissions is central to that effort,” says Vitelli. “This bill will ensure Maine reduces its carbon footprint, transitions to renewable energy sources and reduces harmful pollutants.”
Expanding Maine’s RPS would generate substantial economic and environmental benefits at a minimal cost to Mainers, according to an analysis conducted by Sustainable Energy Advantage and Synapse Energy Economics.
The study found that the bill could provide the following benefits:
- Create 170 new jobs each year between 2020 and 2030;
- Improve public health by curbing air pollution, avoiding $500,000 per year in public health damages between 2020 and 2030;
- Add 700 MW of new, in-state renewable energy projects;
- Result in minimal impact to Maine’s ratepayers, with only 1.1% increases in residential bills – ranging from increases of $1.16 (for residential) to $1.76 (for small commercial) per month between 2020 and 2030; and
- Reduce Maine’s reliance on fossil fuels by 5% and curb greenhouse-gas emissions from the electric sector attributable to Maine by 55%.
“It used to be that policymakers had to choose between clean or cheap — now, they can have both,” comments Jeremy Payne, executive director of the Maine Renewable Energy Association. He explains that a state’s properly functioning RPS “sends a strong signal to investors that a state is ‘open for their business.’” Payne adds that Gov. Janet Mills, D-Maine, has supported this new RPS goal.
“Maine has huge untapped opportunities for accelerating economic development by investing in clean energy projects and innovative renewable technologies,” notes Jack Parker, chairman and CEO of Reed & Reed, a Maine-based wind contractor.
“What’s become clear from experience here in Maine and across the country is that accelerating the transition to clean energy is a win-win that benefits both people and the environment,” adds Dylan Voorhees, clean energy director at the Natural Resources Council of Maine. “Expanding Maine’s RPS is how we put our renewable energy aspirations into action, creating a structure that will enable new, homegrown energy projects that will spark new jobs, clean the air, and decrease our reliance on expensive, polluting fossil fuels.”