My name is Dylan Voorhees and I am the Clean Energy Director for the Natural Resources Council of Maine. Thank you for allowing us to present this testimony. (Our testimony today is nearly identical to testimony we submitted in the past on identical legislation—which was defeated unanimously by the committee and full Legislature.) NRCM strongly 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, provide long-term stability and sustainable for our energy system. We oppose the addition of waste incineration to Maine’s RPS for several reasons.
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, and 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 hydrokinetics.
NRCM believes it would be a serious mistake to require that a minimum percentage of our electricity comes from trash incineration in perpetuity. Doing so would run counter to the goals of Maine’s solid waste management hierarchy. Waste incineration is second-to-last out of 7 priority tiers in that hierarchy, far behind waste minimization, recycling, and composting. Requiring that an ongoing percentage of power come from 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. Unlike Maine’s current Class I RPS, the proposed Waste-to-Energy RPS would provide a subsidy to existing plants, indeed plants that have been running on their own for some time. The purpose of our Class I RPS is to incentivize investments in new generation that help diversify our generation mix beyond its current situation. New generation also means new jobs, new investment, and growing new or emerging markets. These waste-to-energy plants will provide none of that.
For all of these reasons, we urge you to vote this proposal down. Thank you.