Natural Resources Council of Maine and Allies Make Strides for Green Energy
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In 2011 the LePage administration launched an effort to eliminate Maine’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), which requires state utilities to gradually increase their use of renewable energy for electricity generation. The Natural Resources Council of Maine, in tandem with a group of other organizations and individuals, have responded to this by announcing a citizen-lead initiativeto require 20% of Maine’s electricity to come from renewable energy sources, and require utilities to invest in energy efficiency whenever it would reduce energy costs for ratepayers.
The effort, lead by a new organization called Maine Citizens for Clean Energy, hitting the ground running, with volunteers across Maine rallying 19,000 signatures in a single day collecting signatures at Maine polling locations this past Election Day, Nov 8.
The Goal: What It Is and Why It Is Important
The initiative would require 20% of Maine’s electricity to come from renewable energy sources by 2020, an increase over the 10% renewable energy goal set for 2017 (and a target of criticism by the Paul LePage administration). It would also require utilities to invest in energy efficiency whenever it would reduce energy costs for ratepayers.
As proponents of an energy diverse, fossil-independent Maine, we think the legislation provides a strong opportunity for Maine to demonstrate leadership in the region. To recap some of the many benefits of renewable energy investments:
- The U.S. solar industry grew by 69 percent in the past year, making it one of the fastest growing sectors in the U.S. economy. ReVision Energy’s growth in Maine and New Hampshire closely matches national solar industry growth trends.
- Since the beginning of 2010, the price of solar panels has dropped by 30 percent, and costs continue to fall, making solar even more affordable for residential and business customers.
- Continued industry growth enhances our energy security and diversifies our domestic energy portfolio.
The clean energy sector is one of the bright spots in Maine’s economy, from local companies building, operating, and manufacturing components for wind farms and solar panels, to those installing energy efficient equipment in our homes and businesses. Increasing energy efficiency and transitioning to local renewable generation will help lower energy costs, stabilize energy prices, and improve the bottom line for Maine’s businesses and households.
ReVision Energy staffers volunteered at several polling stations to collect signatures on November 8th, and found that Maine citizens are warm-hearted towards clean energy and eager for this kind of legislation.
“It was thrilling to see how many people lit up about getting clean power on the ballot,” said Fred Greenhalgh, Online Marketing Manager of ReVision Energy, who collected signatures in South Berwick. “Folks from all sides of the political spectrum kept expressing to me how they felt energy independence and clean-energy jobs are a no-brainer, and want to see our state take a more ambitious track towards conservation and renewable energy generation than what has been set by our current leadership.”
Volunteers in the petition drive will be throughout the State working to get another 40,000 signatures statewide which will ensure the proposed legislation makes in on next year’s ballot. Keep an eye out at the local grocery store, health food store, Christmas tree lightning ceremony and other public events. You can also learn more yourself and support by visiting the Maine Citizens for Clean Energy website: www.cleanenergymaine.org.