Today, Mainers are among the most vulnerable to spiking foreign energy costs, as we are among the most dependent in the country on oil for home heating and gasoline powered vehicles for our long commutes to work. On top of that, for seven-plus years, we have had an administration that is ideologically opposed to developing clean, local, renewable energy sources.
Ten years from now, Maine could be the first 100% renewable energy state in the country – in fact, we could produce more energy than we consume as a state and become the first “exporter” of renewable energy in the country. We can also build our economy and grow jobs by becoming a global leader in industries that support renewable energy, such as smart grid technology, demand and response technologies, non-transmission alternatives, and distributed energy solutions. That is a bold, progressive vision for Maine’s future.
All the pieces are here: We have the natural resources, the research and development expertise, the entrepreneurial capabilities, and a history of being pioneers in clean energy solutions. What we are missing is the experienced leadership to put the pieces together.
I have worked for 16 years in energy law and energy policy, and I have led a number of energy businesses. I helped devise an energy storage solution that would have prevented ratepayers from funding a $20 million transmission line built on the Boothbay peninsula and recently helped close one of Maine’s largest solar power deals in Kennebunk. I was also honored nationally by President Obama’s White House in 2013 as a “Champion of Change” for my work as “a veteran working to advance clean energy and climate security.”
As governor, I will have a ten-year plan for renewable energy leadership. I will immediately submit a solar energy bill like the one Speaker Sara Gideon showed great leadership in creating alongside a broad coalition of stakeholders, including rooftop, grid scale, and community solar solutions. That bill was killed by only two votes by the current governor. This change alone could help Maine create or support thousands of good paying jobs for engineers, plumbers, electricians, installers and others. While Massachusetts has over 14,000 people employed in solar energy, Maine’s poor policy means we only have a few hundred jobs.
As the only energy expert and entrepreneur running for governor in either party, I will be releasing detailed plans to:
- Unleash Maine’s solar energy potential by passing legislation to grow rooftop, grid scale, and community solar solutions and jobs across the state,
- Ensure that Maine, through work by the University of Maine, becomes the world leader in the design and manufacture of offshore floating wind turbines and stays on track to generate at least 5 Gigawatts – the equivalent of five nuclear power plants — of power from the Gulf of Maine by 2030,
- Continue to support Maine’s leadership regionally when it comes to generating properly sited onshore wind energy,
- Support and help promote Maine’s other local renewable energy sources and the entrepreneurs working to build leadership in their fields, including tidal power generation, biomass, wood-based biofuels, and other energy technologies,
- Champion Maine as the ideal place for America’s first true smart grid, linking our highest in the nation penetration of smart meters (97 percent) to our abundant sources of local, renewable energy while pioneering the storage infrastructure required to make intermittent sources provide consistent, cost effective renewable energy to Maine citizens and export the rest to the region,
- Actively champion Maine as the leader and future hub of renewable energy innovation and technology leadership. We will aggressively seek out and attract federal, private and foundation capital investments to build Maine’s research and development infrastructure, so entrepreneurs looking to build the next generation, clean energy economy will want to start or grow their business and create jobs here in Maine.