Renewable Energy Challenges

The current population of Maine is estimated to be 1.35 million people. In December 2018, state utilities used renewable energy (88.3%), natural gas (10.7%) and coal (1.0%) to generate electricity. Hydropower, biomass and wind are the primary sources of renewable energy in Maine.

The Maine Public Utility Commission requires electricity providers to supply a minimum of 30% of their total electric sales to be from renewable energy. Maine’s government has implemented financial incentive programs to subsidize investment in renewable energy resources like wind, solar and hydropower. The residents of Maine have consistently support the move from fossil fuels to renewable energy, up to a point.

Dozens of people recently attended a public hearing in Farmington, Maine on a proposed 147-mile transmission line that will deliver electricity from Quebec through Maine and to Massachusetts. The proposed transmission line will be built within Central Maine Power’s existing transmission corridor and undeveloped forestland in Somerset and Franklin counties in western Maine.
Opponents to the proposed transmission line raise concerns about disruption to scenic views, tourism and wildlife. Supporters of the proposed transmission line argue the area is already a “working forest” with active logging and that the project will support green energy, jobs and lower electricity rates.

Approvals to lay transmission lines are usually the most difficult element of any new energy project. Federal, state and local governments hold jurisdiction over who can build what, where they can build it, when they can build it and who will pay for it. The transmission line approval process can take years to complete.

In 2018, plans to build a major wind farm in Oklahoma was canceled because approvals for transmission lines to power plants in Arkansas and Louisiana couldn’t be acquired. I fully support public hearings on all aspects of a new energy project. In my opinion, it is essential for the approval process to be streamlines, so the move from fossil fuels to renewable energy can be accelerated.

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