Maine Kicks off Green Power Campaign

Mainers are making the connection between energy independence and green electricity in increasing numbers. The Maine Green Power Connection (MGPC), launched by the state’s Gov. John Baldacci, has been founded by 25 organizations committed to educating Maine about the benefits of cleaner electricity.

Augusta, Maine – March 21, 2003 [SolarAccess.com] The MGPC will help Maine electricity customers see the connection between their electricity use, their state and their planet, and to understand the benefits of cleaner, secure, homegrown energy that does not require drilling and cause other environmental damage. “Green electricity, generated in Maine by small Maine hydro and biomass generators, represents a win-win for Maine,” said Baldacci as he welcomed the founders of the MGPC. “Cleaner, renewable electricity helps to clear Maine’s air while it keeps in Maine the dollars we pay for our electricity.” Baldacci signed a Letter of Intent with Maine Renewable Energy LLC (MRE) to purchase green electricity for over 700 of the state’s small electricity accounts. Once in place, changing these accounts to Maine-generated renewable electricity will reduce air pollutants in Maine by 4.6 million pounds of CO2, 5,500 pounds of nitrogen oxide and 18,000 pounds of sulfur dioxide, according to officials. Ericka Morgan, Program Manager, Maine Green Power Connection, said the entire supply of green energy is generated within Maine’s Borders through existing small hydro and biomass facilities operated by MRE. The 26 hydroelectric generators are all less than 30 MW in capacity – these are often referred to as “low-head” hydro, and are less hazardous to fish and other aspects of the environment than larger hydroelectric generating stations. In a mutually beneficial arrangement, the biomass plants rely to a significant extent on wood waste from lumber and sawmill operations as their primary source of fuel, while the timber industry relies heavily on these plants to adequately dispose of their waste wood. MRE guarantees that no less than 50 percent of their electricity will be generated by the hydroelectric stations, ensuring an even mix of renewables production. While the green power purchases will cost the state slightly more than the traditional energy supply, this difference will be made up through efficiency improvements in state buildings. “The state is doing it on a cost neutral basis by working with MRE and their parent company to simultaneously identify energy efficiency improvements,” said Morgan. “Only in a few state buildings has there been much effort toward efficiency and so there’s a lot of room to capture energy savings. The state will pay no more than before but the environment will receive a double benefit.” The organizations involved see this as more than a way to improve air quality in Maine but also a means to contribute toward a cumulative effect in air quality throughout the country. “The Lung Association of Maine looks forward to the day when Maine’s entire airshed – the air we share with the states to the west of us and the provinces to the east – is free of the lung-damaging pollutants that result from the combustion of traditional carbon-based fuels,” said Edward Miller, executive director of the American Lung Association of Maine. “Renewable electricity, purchased by citizens across Maine, is a way to make that happen.” Five leading Maine organizations have stepped forward to bring the Maine Green Power Connection to reality. In addition to the American Lung Association, the Chewonki Foundation of Wiscasset, the National Environmental Trust, Maine Interfaith Power and Light (MeIPL) and Interface Fabrics Group have all contributed funding and in-kind resources to form the Connection. Mainers have already responded enthusiastically to MRE’s green power options according to MeIPL which recently began offering renewable energy to individual consumers. They reported the first seven weeks of their green electricity sales significantly exceeded expectations their expectations. “Four hundred eighty six electricity accounts have been switched to Maine Renewable Energy’s renewable electricity product, a tremendous response so early in the offering,” said Peter Felsenthal, president of MeIPL. Morgan is confident that between consumers who signed up for green energy through MeIPL, and the new state contracts, Renewable Energy has a very bright future in Maine. “There are few things on which we independent-minded Mainers would all agree,” Morgan said. “At the same time, given a choice between nonpolluting, secure, homegrown electricity and energy sources that bring pollution, health effects and political risk, which would you choose?” Jesse Broehl can be reached at jesse.broehl@solaraccess.com

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