Maine Is Surging Toward 100% Renewable Target

State Economy

The population of the state of Maine  is approximately 1.35 million people[1]. Maine is the 43rd most populated state in the United States.

In 2020, Maine’s economy was ranked 43rd in the United States in gross domestic product (GDP)[2]. The state’s economy is dependent on the agriculture, fishing, shipbuilding, mining, and tourism industries[3].

Environment Policies

In 1999, Maine enacted a renewable energy standard[4] mandating all investor-owned and retail utilities sell 80% of their electricity from renewable energy by 2030 and 100% by 2050.

In 2007, Maine joined the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a nine state cooperative designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power plants and encourage investments in energy efficiency and clean energy.

In January 2021, Maine’s  utilities[5] used renewable energy (79.4%), natural gas (20.0%) and coal (0.6%) to generate electricity. Hydropower, wind, and biomass are the primary sources of renewable energy in Maine.

In January 2021, the average cost of residential electricity in Maine was 16.50 ¢ per kWh, compared to the national average of 12.69 ¢ per kWh.

Recent renewable energy developments in Maine include:

  • 126 MW Onshore Wind Project – American renewable energy company, Apex Clean Energy has commenced work on the Downeast Wind project, which is located approximately 125 miles northeast of the state capital, Augusta. The project is forecast to be commissioned by year-end 2022.
  • 100 MW Solar Projects – American renewable energy company, Acadia Renewable Energy is continuing to develop multiple photovoltaic solar projects across the state. All the solar projects are scheduled to be commissioned by year-end 2021.
  • Renewable Energy Tender – In September 2020, the Maine Public Utilities Commission (MPUC) announced the results of the state’s recent renewable energy tender. The MPUC selected 17 projects (solar, onshore wind, hydropower, and biomass), which have a total capacity of 546 MW.
  • Solar On Closed Landfills – Maine’s Department of Environmental Protection[6] has approved the installation of solar photovoltaic arrays on closed landfill sites. Maine has over 400 closed landfills across the state.

Conclusions

In 2010, Maine used fossil fuels (coal, oil, and natural gas) to generate over 38% of the state’s electricity[7]. In 2021, Maine is using fossil fuels to generate less than 21% of the state’s electricity.

Maine is one of nine states that currently has zero carbon emission mandate. Maine is on track to achieve their 2030 renewable energy standard target of 80% in 2021! At this pace, Maine could meet its 2050 renewable energy standard target of 100% by 2030.

Jack Kerfoot

Website – “Our Energy Conundrum”

www.jackkerfoot.com

 

[1] Maine Population 2021, World Population Review

[2] U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis

[3] Biggest Industries in Maine – World Atlas

[4] National Conference of State Legislators – State Renewable Portfolio Standards and Goals, January 4, 2021

[5] U.S. Energy Information Agency – Maine State Profile and Energy Estimates, www.eia.gov

[6] Maine Department of Environmental Protection, Municipal Landfill Remediation Program

[7] U.S. Energy Information Agency – Maine State Profile and Energy Estimates, Electricity Power Consumption Estimates 1960-2018

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