News release by the Associated General Contractors of Maine, Natural Resources Council of Maine, The Nature Conservancy in Maine, and Maine Renewable Energy Association
In the face of rising energy costs for Maine ratepayers caused by overreliance on natural gas and home heating oil and an urgent call from the world’s scientists to reduce fossil fuel use, a wide range of interests today called on the Legislature to act swiftly to pass a proposal to bring more low-cost clean energy to Maine.
The Associated General Contractors of Maine (AGC Maine), Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM), The Nature Conservancy in Maine (TNC Maine), and the Maine Renewable Energy Association (MREA) are encouraging the House and Senate to ensure passage of LD 1350 to scale up the percentage of Maine-made renewable energy being delivered to electricity customers.
Adding additional clean energy to the region’s electric grid will improve reliability and affordability, while also supporting new job creation and helping Maine meet the climate and clean energy goals established by the Legislature in 2019.
“Maine’s investment in renewable energy has contributed to the resurgence in construction growth for skilled trades. As the industry works to recruit additional workers, we see first-hand the appreciation for being involved with projects that will generate clean power here in our state. As defined in this bill, competitive investment will generate positive income for our state and hard-working Mainers who can be proud to say they contributed to low–cost, clean energy,” explained Matt Marks, CEO of AGC Maine.
“Adding more affordable, stable, and reliable clean energy to the grid is core to achieving Maine’s climate and clean energy goals — providing the pollution-free power we need to replace expensive fossil fuels in our electricity, and our homes, cars, and trucks,” remarked Jack Shapiro, Climate and Clean Energy Director for NRCM. “LD 1350 is the only bill this session that will bring significant new low-cost renewable resources online in Maine and help achieve the goals set out by bipartisan majorities of the Legislature.”
“We shouldn’t miss this opportunity to get more clean, affordable energy onto the grid,” said Rob Wood, Director of Government Relations and Climate Policy at TNC Maine. “LD 1350 also takes initial steps to encourage projects on PFAS-contaminated land, an important example of low-impact renewable energy development that protects Maine natural resources.”
“We applaud the leadership of Senator Vitelli as she seeks to lower costs through the adoption of more clean energy. Good-paying jobs, new tax revenues for host communities, and cost-effective Maine-made clean energy is exactly what we can expect to receive if LD 1350 becomes law,” explained Jeremy Payne, Executive Director of MREA.
In 2020, at the direction of the Maine Legislature, the Maine Public Utilities Commission (PUC) issued two requests for proposals (RFP) to deliver more clean energy to the electric grid. The PUC received dozens of bids and ultimately awarded contracts to 23 renewable energy projects, including new wind and solar installations, totaling nearly 800 megawatts. The average price for the awarded projects was 3.5 cents/kWh, which the PUC determined is cost-competitive and beneficial to Maine ratepayers. The projects combined will reduce 500,000 tons of greenhouse gases and grow Maine’s economy through the creation of hundreds of construction jobs, $145 million spent with Maine companies, $3 million on Maine companies’ goods and services, and nearly $5 million per year in local and state taxes.
LD 1350, sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Eloise Vitelli, builds off the success of those first two RFPs and will instruct the PUC to issue an RFP for 7.5% of Maine’s 2021 retail electric load. Importantly, the RFP is also responsive to the challenges faced by landowners with soils affected by perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), as the RFP will permit the PUC to give added consideration to projects proposed on PFAS-contaminated lands.