Coalition Announces Citizens Initiative to Expand Clean Energy in Maine

Environment Maine

Diverse coalition of business, labor, and environmental groups announces ballot initiative campaign to increase Maine’s energy independence.

Bangor, Maine — Today, a coalition of organizations, businesses and individuals announced a new citizens initiative to increase clean energy in Maine in order to increase energy independence, create jobs, control energy costs and cut pollution. The coalition has established a new group, Maine Citizens for Clean Energy, which is beginning to gather signatures for the November 2012 ballot.

The ballot initiative would control energy costs, create jobs and increase Maine’s energy independence by requiring electric utilities to invest in energy efficiency whenever it would reduce energy costs for ratepayers and requiring that 20% of Maine’s electricity comes from new renewable energy sources, like wind and solar.

“Maine is dangerously dependent on fossil fuels at great cost to the state’s economy, energy security and environment,” says Dylan Voorhees, Clean Energy Director for the Natural Resources Council of Maine. “Maine people spend more than $5 billion every year on imported fossil fuels, including for generating electricity. By dramatically expanding investments in clean energy sources like energy efficiency, solar and wind, this clean energy initiative will help Maine’s economy, our environment and our health.”

A diverse set of speakers gathered to describe the opportunity that this initiative would give to Maine and described some examples of how renewable energy and energy efficiency benefit the state.

“Reed & Reed has helped to develop renewable energy here in Maine by building many wind power projects across the state,” says John Cooney from Reed & Reed.  “We believe that these projects are good for our state – they are good for business, they are good for families, and they are good for the air. This measure would create thousands of new, family-supporting jobs in technology, construction, and manufacturing at a time when Maine urgently needs to reduce unemployment.”  

“Maine is too dependent on imported energy,” says Andrew Campbell, Iraq war veteran of the Maine Army National Guard, and member of Operation Free.  “We send over five billion dollars out of state every year buying foreign oil and gas, including money that goes overseas to countries that threaten our national security.  By making the transition to clean, sustainable sources of energy here at home, we can reduce our dependence on other nations, making our families safer and our future more secure.”

“IRC Roofing has been doing roofing contracting in Maine for decades,” says Kurt Penney from IRC Solar Roofing. “We’ve seized the opportunity clean energy offers in Maine by expanding into commercial scale rooftop solar power. We’ve hired four full time employees this year and look forward to expanding further as we do our part to provide renewable energy with stable, long-term prices for our clients.”

“In addition, clean energy is one of the few bright spots in this challenging economy, with strong job and business growth,” says Rob Brown of Opportunity Maine.  “The Clean Energy Initiative will help those businesses grow faster and employ more Mainers.”

“Make no mistake about it, our dependence on dirty energy pollutes our air and water, threatening our children’s health and damaging the environment,” says Environment Maine Director Emily Figdor. “We need action now and can’t sit around waiting for Maine’s political leaders to end our dependence on dirty energy.  This initiative will cut pollution, safeguard our health and environment, and give Maine people the opportunity to decide our energy future.”

The Clean Energy Initiative includes two elements:

· Requiring 20% of our power to come from new renewable sources like wind and solar by 2020;

· Requiring electric utilities like CMP and Bangor-Hydro to support and invest in all energy-efficiency resources for consumers that are cost-effective and will lower total energy costs.

The initiative builds on existing policies and success: Maine already requires 10% of our power to come from renewables by 2017. The Public Utilities Commission has repeatedly reported that this Renewable Energy Standard is working—promoting renewable energy development in Maine without burdening ratepayers. The clean energy initiative will spur additional renewable investment in Maine, create jobs and reduce our use of fossil fuels. In addition, over the past several years, Efficiency Maine has spurred public investments in energy efficiency that have saved almost half a billion dollars on Maine electric bills. Efficiency Maine, the Public Utilities Commission and Central Maine Power have identified over $800 million of additional untapped savings that could be achieved in Maine through cost-effective energy investments. The clean energy initiative would enable the energy consumers to tap into those savings, significantly reducing Maine energy bills.

“We believe the Renewable Energy Standard has provided and will continue to provide an excellent business signal to investors that Maine is open for their renewable energy investment,” says Jeremy Payne, Executive Director for the Maine Renewable Energy Association. “Stable, consistent policies are exactly what the renewable energy community looks for when considering project development.  We know that with continued and long-term support for renewable energy, Maine will accrue tremendous economic benefits from these projects for years to come.”

“Maine people understand that our state’s prosperity lies in increasing energy independence and investing in clean energy opportunities in Maine,” says Dylan Voorhees, Clean Energy Director for the Natural Resources Council of Maine. “The alternative of more status quo dependence on dirty, imported fossil is a risky gamble that will bring enormous costs for Maine people and businesses. This clean energy ballot measure is about reducing threats to our economy by increasing our energy independence, creating a brighter future for Maine.”