Maine Governor Roots for Energy Efficiency and Renewables

March 16, 2009

In his State of the State Address on March 10, Maine Governor John Baldacci said his vision for building the state's economy includes weatherizing buildings, investing in renewable energy, and improving the state's electrical grid and transmission corridors.

Baldacci says he wants to weatherize every home and half of all businesses in the state by 2020. The goal can be reached, in part, by using a newly created program to simplify financing for home energy improvements. The program uses state loan guarantees to access up to $100 million of private capital. Businesses can access financial support through the state energy plan, which allows the state to subsidize energy audits and other incentives. Read the plan, which is titled State of Maine Comprehensive Energy Plan 2008–2009 (PDF 4.1 MB). Download Adobe Reader.

Some of the weatherizing will be performed by a weatherization corps of young workers, under a program run jointly by the Maine Department of Labor, Jobs for Maine Graduates, local Community Action Program agencies, and the Maine State Housing Authority.

Baldacci also wants to build on the efforts of the state's Ocean Energy Task Force by proposing $7.5 million for a Maine Marine Wind Energy Fund to support the development of a national offshore testing site. "Turbines placed off Maine's coast have the potential to produce more than 133 gigawatts of electricity from wind alone," Baldacci said. "That's as much electricity as 40 nuclear power plants can produce."

The governor also cited development efforts in tidal power, which captures the movement of the ocean to generate electricity. Ocean Renewable Power Company, he said, is currently field testing tidal power turbines near Eastport.

In addition to ocean energy, Maine is producing renewable energy from biomass, solar, and hydroelectric sources. To distribute all that energy, Baldacci said Maine will need to improve the electricity grid and transmission system.

The Maine Power Reliability Project, proposed by Central Maine Power would upgrade the existing grid. Baldacci said that project has the potential to pump $1.5 billion dollars into the state's economy and create more than 2,000 jobs over four years.

One transmission improvement effort, the governor said, began with his signature earlier in the day to a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Bangor Hydroelectric Company. The MOU will enable the state and the company to explore transforming transportation corridors, along interstates and roads, into rights-of-way for new underground transmission lines. One such project currently being considered is Bangor Hydroelectric's Northeast Energy Link, which would run from Orrington, Maine, to Boston. It has the potential, Baldacci said, to inject $2 billion into the state via construction of a new transmission line that would transmit 1,100 megawatts of renewable energy.

All in all, Baldacci says, proposed public and private investments for energy efficiency and renewable energy in the state total $12 billion, which could give the economy a welcome boost.

For more information, see the governor's March 10 press release.

To read more about renewable energy and energy efficiency projects in Maine, see: