A coalition calling itself Maine Citizens for Clean Energy is gathering signatures to for a ballot initiative that would mandate that Maine’s electrical utilities “get 20 percent of their power from renewable energy sources by 2020.” From the Oct. 27, 2011 Bangor Daily News:
Six years before Maine utility companies are required to get at least 10 percent of their power from renewable energy sources, a coalition of Maine businesses, organizations and individuals is trying to get that amount doubled.
And if the Maine Citizens for Clean Energy coalition gets its way, Maine’s utilities would have just three more years to do it.
Representatives from three Maine businesses, an electricians union and environmental groups held a press conference at Bangor Public Library on Thursday to announce the start of a petition drive for a ballot initiative that would require Maine’s utilities to get 20 percent of their power from renewable energy sources by 2020.
“I think this started because we saw an opportunity to craft a policy that would get broad support from these different sectors and take it to the people,” said Dylan Voorhees, clean energy director for the Natural Resources Council of Maine, a nonprofit membership organization based in Augusta.
In addition to the environmental and social benefits of reducing fossil fuel usage, the coalition is promoting the new regulations as an important job-creating strategy.
“In Maine, as in much of the country, construction work has taken the brunt of this Great Recession,” said Hermon resident Scott Cuddy, a journeyman electrician. “We need help now. We do not want a handout, we want a job. Our jobs come from projects. When a new area of development is identified, we need to exploit that area as soon as we can. Alternative energy generation is just such a field.”
Maine Citizens for Clean Energy’s members say their ballot initiative would control energy costs, create jobs and make Maine more energy independent by requiring electric utilities to invest in energy efficiency whenever it would reduce energy costs for ratepayers.
…Law requires utilities to get 10 percent of their power from renewable energy such as wind, solar, geothermal or tidal power by 2017. This initiative would double that minimum three years later.
“This is really about leveling the playing field so clean energy sources made right here in Maine that don’t pollute are able to compete,” said Emily Figdor, director of Environment Maine, an advocacy organization based in Portland. “And yes, some of them are not cost-competitive yet, but we’ll get there.
“The price of solar energy has come down dramatically the last few years because of policies like this one and Maine has a very minimal standard right now at 10 percent.”
…The economics make sense all around, according to those in the coalition.
“Maine people spend more than $5 billion every year on imported fossil fuels, including for generating electricity,” said Voorhees. “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 health.”
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