My name is Dylan Voorhees and I am the Clean Energy Director for the Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM). Thank you for allowing us to present this testimony. NRCM supports the use of our Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) to spur investment in renewable resources that help reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, improve our environment, and provide long-term stability and sustainable for our energy system. As we have testified before on nearly identical legislation introduced repeatedly over the past several years, we oppose defining trash incineration as renewable energy within the RPS.
The solid waste created by society and sent to incinerators is not a renewable resource and should not qualify for renewable energy credits. Although waste incinerators can serve an important role as part of Maine’s overall solid waste system, by reducing the volume of waste that still needs to be landfilled, the top priority for Maine’s solid waste policy should be to reduce and recycle waste. The top priority for our renewable energy policy should be to increase generation of energy from truly renewable resources, such as wind, solar and sustainable hydropower. This legislation is not consistent with either priority.
NRCM believes it would be a serious mistake to require in perpetuity that a minimum percentage of our electricity come from sources that include trash incineration. Doing so would run counter to the goals of Maine’s solid waste management hierarchy. Waste incineration is second-to-last out of seven priority tiers in that hierarchy, far behind waste minimization, recycling, and composting. Requiring that an ongoing percentage of power come from sources including waste incineration would not only weaken the incentive to reduce waste, but also would create financial incentive to perpetuate current levels of collection and burning of trash.
Finally, and perhaps most important to this committee, this bill would provide a ratepayer-funded incentive with little or no ratepayer benefit. The purpose of our Class I RPS is to incentivize investments in new generation that help diversify our generation mix beyond the status quo. New generation also means new jobs, new investment, and growing new or emerging markets. Existing resources do not provide those benefits.
For all of these reasons, we urge you to vote this proposal down. Thank you.