There was a time when I got all the news I needed either at the dump, at the store, or across the bed of a pickup truck. I guess now maybe things have changed somewhat.

News Updates

MAINE ENERGY NEWS

Peruse our compilation of news stories about Maine's evolution to a clean energy ecomony. You may also wish to view news sorted by topic categories from the community page of your choice.
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Lawmakers Uphold LePage's Veto of Solar Bill
05/09/2016 - 1:42pm

Solar panels Image courtesy of humble Farmer.On April 28, 2016, the Maine House voted to uphold Governor LePage’s veto of L.D. 1649, “An Act To Modernize Maine's Solar Power Policy and Encourage Economic Development,” which would have made comprehensive changes to the solar industry in the state. 

LePage’s veto came from his belief that the bill would have raised energy prices on all ratepayers in the state. LePage stated that the bill would increase the costs of doing business in Maine as well as for homes and businesses that cannot afford solar panels “by tens of millions of dollars – picking winners and losers in Maine’s energy mix.” The bill would have increased rates around the fourth year of its plan, adding about 31 cents to the average homeowner’s electric bill, but it also would have drastically increased access to community solar farms, which benefits ratepayers who could not otherwise afford to install solar systems. Read University of Maine economics professor Sharon Klein’s explanation here.

The bill failed by just two votes to achieve a two-thirds majority needed to overturn the veto, losing 96-52. When Democratic leaders brought the bill back for a second vote, it lost again 93-50. Republican lawmakers, Michael Timmons of Cumberland, Brian Hobart of Bowdoinham, MaryAnn Kinney of Knox and John Pichiottti of Fairfield, were accused of “taking a walk” when they voted to override the governor the first time and then failed to vote in the bill’s subsequent appearance.

To read more about this issue, see the Portland Press Herald’s coverage here.

Image courtesy of humble Farmer.

Maine Governor Signs Biomass Bailout Bill
05/07/2016 - 5:14pm

biomass hopper at Colby College image courtesy of Colby CollegeOn April 16, 2016, Maine’s Governor signed a $13.5 million biomass bailout bill, LD 1676: “An Act To Establish a Process for the Procurement of Biomass Resources”, into law after it passed both houses on April 15.

The bill would authorize the Maine Public Utilities Commission to purchase up to 80 MW of power from Maine’s remaining biomass energy plants at above-market prices over two years in order to shore up demand. Funding for these purchases would come from the state’s “Rainy Day Fund” of surplus tax revenues, rather than from an increase in electricity rates, as originally proposed.

Supporters see the bill as essential to the preservation of over 1,000  jobs in the logging and biomass industries. Opponents see the bill as “corporate welfare” which will benefit JD Irving and biomass plant owner ReEnergy Holdings, with no guarantee that the plants will remain open.

Read more in the Bangor Daily News and listen to the story on MPBN.

Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Industry Growing in Northeast
04/20/2016 - 9:20pm

Northeast Electrochemical Energy Storage Cluster logoOn March 17, 2016, the Northeast Electrochemical Energy Storage Cluster (NEESC) announced the results of a recently-commissioned, independent IMPLAN economic analysis of the region's hydrogen and fuel cell industry. The study's findings suggest that the hydrogen and fuel cell industry in the Northeast region experienced growth over the last four years. Factors evaluated in the study included: employment, revenue and investment, labor income, and state and local tax revenue.

NEESC is a project administered by the Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology Inc. (CCAT). Joel Rinebold, Director of Energy Initiatives at CCAT said of the study, ”We were very pleased to see growth in the industry here in the Northeast given the competitive nature of the industry and the significant recruitment efforts from other countries.”

Read more on the NASDAQ Globe Newswire

Maine-Quebec EV Charging Station Corridor Announced
03/10/2016 - 5:04pm

Signage in front of an EV charging station in South PortlandOn Wednesday, March 10th, 2016 Maine and the Canadian province of Quebec announced a partnership to establish a route of electric vehicle charging stations between the two locations. The program promotes tourism to Maine and complements Quebec's new multimillion dollar program to incentivize EV sales. Funding for the project has not yet been announced; an initial plan is expected by summer 2016.

Read more on MaineBiz, the Portland Press Herald, or the Bangor Daily News.

Proposal on Solar Now in Augusta
03/03/2016 - 2:02pm

solar panels image courtesy of humble FarmerOn February 25 2016, a coalition of stakeholders - including solar companies, environmental groups, and utility companies - presented to the Legislature a proposal for new solar energy projects in Maine.

The proposal seeks to increase Maine’s current solar capacity to 250 megawatts in the next five years. As part of this, the proposal seeks to end net metering, a popular system that credits utility customers one-to-one on the amount of energy they generate for the grid. That is, customers of CMP and Emera who sometimes draw power from the grid and sometimes send power to it (from their solar panels or other renewable source) pay only for the “net” amount used on their monthly bill.

Net metering has been popular among solar advocates because it has spurred development and provided incentive for consumers to install solar projects. In the absence of net metering, grid-tied consumers would still be credited for their excess electricity, but it would be tied to a rate set by the Maine Public Utilities Commission, guaranteed for 20 years.

Proponents say the proposal strikes a balance between growing solar, creating jobs, and protecting rate payers and utility companies.

For more information about this issue, continue reading at the Portland Press Herald. Read the proposal here.

Image courtesy of humble Farmer.

Brunswick Junior High Students Explore Energy Efficiency with Evergreen Home Performance
02/02/2016 - 3:34pm

Evergreen Energy Advisor Cree Krull prepares BJHS students for a blower door test. The bright red blower door has a calibrated fan that measures a building's air leakage image courtesy of Evergreen Home PerformanceBrunswick Junior High School 7th graders competed to see who could build the most energy efficient “home” last week, with some pretty surprising results. The structures started with cardboard from the cafeteria, and the insulation and air sealing options were limited to paper, aluminum foil, plastic wrap, blueboard, tape, and glue, but the improvements helped students connect the science of heat transfer to the real-life challenges of weatherizing Maine homes.

“The kids can unequivocally confirm that well-taped plastic wrap is great at reducing air leakage but not so great at stopping heat loss,” said Cree Krull, who led the activity and helped students test their structures with fans and infrared cameras. “And we can extend that observation to explain why homes need air sealing and insulation.”

Krull should know; as an energy advisor at Evergreen Home Performance, he uses the same tools to assess real homes for air and heat loss. “Using an infrared camera is pretty straightforward, so it makes sense to have kids work with the real thing,” said Krull. “Interpreting what you see and knowing what to do about it is what takes expertise.”

The BJHS students may not be ready for careers in energy efficiency yet, but they’re much more informed thanks to a month-long interdisciplinary project that highlights the science, economics, and politics of home weatherization and introduces students to the need for lower reliance on home heating oil and greater emphasis on energy efficiency.

“Weatherizing Maine’s old homes reduces our dependence on the fossil fuels used to heat them, which in turn reduces heating expenses and environmental impacts” said BHJS teacher Cris Lavigne. “When kids learn how weatherization works and how they can be a part of it, they make things better for their community. It’s a powerful service-learning opportunity.”

Students will share what they’ve learned by creating a bank of weatherization materials, along with instructions on how to use them, and using those weatherization materials to seal drafty spaces in their lives. In March, they will share the results of their learning at a community-wide event.

Photo and article courtesy of Evergreen Home Perfomance.

Central Maine Power's Parent Company Involved in Merger
01/27/2016 - 11:17pm

Electric wires in Maine. Photo by Kay Mann.As of December 16th, 2016, Central Maine Power has become part of the U.S.-based company Avangrid as part of a merger. CMP left the ownership of Spain-based Iberdrola to become part of Avangrid's assemblage of companies operating in New York, Connecticut, and western Massachussetts. This merger follows an industry trend of diversification as the US works toward a clean energy future. CMP's local customers should not see any interruptions in service.

Read the full story on MPBN here.

Belfast Turns Dump into Solar Resource
01/23/2016 - 6:03pm

solar panelsIn early January 2016, the city of Belfast began producing solar power from a 122-kilowatt array it had mounted atop its former landfill. In a sort of lease-to-own arrangement, the city signed a power purchase agreement with the owner and installer of the array, Revision Energy. After 6 years of buying the power at a discount, the city will have the option to buy the system at a discount. The system is expected to last for 40 years.

A few other Maine municipalities have entered such PPA agreements, and this is the first one located on a closed landfill. Read the full story in the Free Press.

UMaine Opens World Class Wind and Wave Testing Facility
12/26/2015 - 7:03pm

the Harold Alfond W2 Ocean Engineering and Advanced Manufacturing Laboratories image courtesy of the University of MaineOn November 23, 2015, the Advanced Structures & Composites Center at the University of Maine at Orono celebrated the opening of the Harold Alfond W2 Ocean Engineering & Advanced Manufacturing Laboratories. This world-class testing laboratory will prototype coastal and offshore structures, including ships, aquaculture facilities, oil and gas structures, and ocean energy devices under extreme wave, wind and current environments.

During the ceremonies, the Harold Alfond Foundation announced a $3.9 million grant to the University of Maine to match $9.98 million already raised for the facility. See photos of the day’s celebration here. Read more in the Bangor Daily News.

Image credit: University of Maine.

Ocean Renewable Power Company Receives DOE Grant
12/26/2015 - 12:15pm

Ocean renewable power company tidgen tidal generation turnine photo courtesy of orc.On November 24, 2015 the Bangor Daily News reported that the Ocean Renewable Power Company (ORPC) of Portland received a $2.25 million grant to make efficiency improvements to the deployment, anchoring and retrieval system for its tidal power generation turbines in Cobscook Bay off Lubec and Eastport. The work is expected to lower operational costs and make the technology more commercially viable. Testing is slated for 2017.

The grant was announced by Rep. Chellie Pingree and is one of 41 of the DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency Energy awards made recently. Read the full story in the Bangor Daily News.

Image courtesy of Ocean Renewable Power Company.