Coalition Sets the Record Straight on Clean Energy

AUGUSTA  – Maine Citizens for Clean Energy, a growing nonpartisan coalition of people and organizations committed to strengthening Maine’s energy independence, keeping Maine’s air clean and healthy, creating jobs, increasing energy efficiency, and attracting new clean energy businesses to Maine, responded tonight to Gov. Paul LePage’s State of the State Address.
The goals articulated by the Governor of creating jobs and lowering energy costs can best be achieved through the citizen initiative to invest in energy efficiency and made-in-Maine renewable energy. Above all we need to reduce Maine’s dangerous dependence on imported energy sources to ensure our long term prosperity.
“Our energy status quo isn’t working,” said Herb Sargent of Sargent Corporation. “Every year, Mainers hand over billions of hard-earned dollars to out-of-state and foreign energy companies. The initiative put forward by Maine Citizens for Clean Energy would help to change that. It would create jobs by investing in energy efficiency, which would help lower electric bills, and it would attract new clean energy businesses to our state. It’s a practical idea that will help put thousands of Mainers to work.”
This initiative builds off the success of Maine’s existing programs and aims to increase the amount of Maine’s electricity supply that will come from new “made-in-Maine” renewable resources, such as solar, wind, hydro and tidal, by increasing incrementally the percentage of new renewable resources of electricity sold in Maine. In addition, the bill requires utility companies to invest in energy efficiency for Maine people and businesses whenever it would reduce energy costs for ratepayers. Energy efficiency is the lowest-cost energy resource available and is a proven approach for lowering energy costs. Passage of the initiative would ultimately result in lower electricity costs for Maine rate payers, a common goal throughout the state.
“This is a market-based solution that will increase competition among power companies and drive down costs for consumers,” said Jeremy Payne, Executive Director of the Maine Renewable Energy Association. “All renewable energy technologies are eligible, and the policy encourages competition among energy technologies that will help Maine become more energy independent, create jobs and diversify our sources of energy.”
An analysis by ENE (Environment Northeast), a nonprofit organization that conducts research and analysis on environmental challenges with respect to the economy, examined the costs and benefits of the full initiative, and found that Maine residential ratepayers will ultimately have lower electric bills if this initiative is approved.
In addition, increasing energy efficiency and renewable energy resources in Maine will reduce air pollution.  “By using energy more efficiently and producing more electricity from clean and renewable resources, we can reduce air pollution that triggers dangerous asthma attacks and other lung diseases,” said Dylan Voorhees, Clean Energy Director of the Natural Resources Council of Maine. 
More than 500 volunteers have been collecting signatures since last November to place this initiative on the ballot this coming November. The deadline to submit those signatures to the Secretary of State is Jan. 30.
Additional background:
Maine Citizens for Clean Energy began collection of signatures statewide in November 2011 to place a ballot initiative before voters in November of this year. To place the question on November’s ballot, the coalition must collect more than 57,000 valid signatures.
Current law requires electricity providers to get 10% of their energy supply from new renewable resources by 2017.
The initiative increases the renewable resource target to 14% in 2017 with incremental increases, ending with 20% by 2020.
The initiative also ensures that the Public Utilities Commission identifies and captures energy efficiency opportunities that are cost-effective.
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