Bill 1006, The Maine Renewable Energy Sources Act, has been introduced into the Maine legislature and reported to the Committee on Utilities and Energy.
The committee will hold a hearing on the bill Tuesday, April 14th, 2009 in the joint committee’s hearing room, Room 211, Burton Cross Office Building, Augusta, Maine.
The bill was inspired by the success of Germany’s Renewable Energy Sources Act. However, unlike the German law, the Maine bill refers pricing or tariff setting to the Maine Public Utilities Commission (MPUC), which has long experience setting rates for investor-owned utilities.
HP 1006, LD 1450 is sponsored by a who’s who of the Maine legislature, including Representative Herbert Adams (D) of Portland and co-sponsored by Representative Seth Berry (D) of Bowdoinham, Representative Adam Goode (D) of Bangor, Representative Jon Hinck (D) of Portland, Representative James (D) Martin of Eagle Lake, Representative Wendy Pieh (D) of Bremen, Representative Hannah Pingree (D) of North Haven, Representative John Piotti (D) of Unity, Representative Thomas Watson (D) of Bath, and Senator Phil Bartlett (D) of Cumberland.
Representative Pingree is Speaker of the House; Representative Piotti is House Majority Leader; Representative Berry is Majority Whip; Senator Bartlett is Majority Leader of the Senate; and Representative Hinck is chair of the Committee on Utilities and Energy.
The Maine legislature is unusual in the USA in that bills are introduced simultaneously in both chambers and are heard in combined committees. If a bill is reported out of committee it moves directly to both chambers.
“We see this as a way to launch a renewable energy industry in Maine,” said Peter Drum, an attorney from Damariscotta, Maine. Drum is part of a grassroots campaign, MidCoast Green Collaborative, that led to introduction of the bill.
Bill 1006 also includes features not found in similar bills introduced elsewhere in the US. The bill stipulates that the MPUC set tariffs that pay a 5% premium for 70% domestic value added. Similarly, the bill specifies a 5% premium for generation from publicly-owned facilities, and a 5% premium for generation produced from digester methane.
Like other bills based on German policy, Maine’s proposed Renewable Energy Sources Act is
- Open to everyone,
- Guarantees connection to the grid,
- Sets no limits on how much generation can be produced,
- Guarantees prices sufficient to justify the investment,
- Differentiates tariffs by technology and size,
- Guarantees the price through a standard, long term contract,
- Passes costs directly on to all rate payers, and
- Creates a board that periodically reviews the program’s progress.
If the bill is reported out of committee, the legislature is expected to act by June, 2009.
HP 1006, LD 1450 (can be downloaded as either a html file, a MS Word *.doc file, or a pdf)
For more on the program, see www.midcoastgreencollaborative.org