Legislators submitted a number of bills that are being driven by the recommendations from the Maine’s Climate Action Plan released last month.
Some new proposals for environmental legislation in Maine are aimed at specific goals, such as speeding up weatherization efforts in Maine homes, or expanding solar energy use and evolving battery technology to store the power at night. Others are broader, such as conserving more land to sequester carbon dioxide, or asking Maine residents to bond $50 million to help communities adapt to a rising sea level.
Goals set for Maine by the administration of Governor Janet Mills, have put Maine on a path to becoming carbon-neutral by 2045. But getting to a point where the state’s buildings and vehicles are emitting no more carbon than is being absorbed by trees, soil and the ocean is quite a hurdle
As the new legislative session ramps up, several legislators and the Mills administration are drafting proposed laws that are intended to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Overall, they would lead to a wholesale shift in the way power is used and generated, expanding renewable energy and electrifying the transportation and heating sectors, a process called beneficial electrification. It’s a transformation being pushed in other Northeast states, including Massachusetts and New York.
This transformation also includes strategies that may create jobs for Maine residents, such as insulating homes and installing heat pumps and solar panels. Governor Mills has said her goal is to double the jobs in Maine’s clean-energy sector to 30,000 within the next nine years.
To be beneficial, though, electricity will have to be affordable and reliable during stormy weather. So, in addition to the more than 50 climate-related bills are measures to “restore local ownership” of electric utilities and create a power generation authority.
Also in play are a handful of proposals aimed at crippling the controversial New England Clean Energy Connect, or NECEC, power transmission line, which would carry hydroelectricity from Quebec to Massachusetts.