- The Maine Wire - https://www.themainewire.com -

Clean energy bill would replicate Blaine House solar project blunder

This session, lawmakers on Maine’s Energy, Utility and Technology Committee is considering LD 2055, “An Act To Require State Agencies To Use Renewable and Sustainable Energy and Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions.” The bill, sponsored by Sen. Nate Libby, is yet another giveaway to the solar lobby at the expense of state taxpayers. It attempts to codify Governor Mills’ “Order for State Agencies to Lead by Example Through Energy Efficiency, Renewable Energy and Sustainability Measures,” an executive order issued by the governor in November 2019.

LD 2055 requires every state agency to set targets and timelines for renewable and sustainable energy use and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions by February 1, 2021. The bill specifically states that solar panels must be considered and included as a method to achieve the goals set by state agencies.

According to the bill, each office and department in Maine would need to appoint a sustainability coordinator to develop and implement plans for the agencies to meet or exceed renewable energy and greenhouse gas emission reduction goals. Agencies would also be permitted to create “internal sustainability teams.”

One section of the bill mentions that solar panels or similar solar technologies must be considered and included wherever possible in planning. When solar panels were installed on the Blaine House property in 2019 there was conclusive evidence that the project was a bad investment for taxpayers, despite claims from the governor, her staff, other elected officials and members of the media that the project would pay for itself.

The Blaine House solar project, for which only one bid was received to complete it, cost taxpayers approximately $63,000 and will only “save” approximately $55,000 over its projected lifetime. That’s a loss of $8,000, from just one building. This loss, and wasting of taxpayer dollars, will likely be compounded for each state agency deciding to take a similar approach

State offices and departments should do what makes the most sense for taxpayers, not the solar lobby. The new mandate outlined in LD 2055 would force agencies to find the most environmentally friendly solution, whatever the cost. Maine releases approximately 15 million metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, ranking 45th overall in the country. Meanwhile, our forests sequester 18 to 45 million metric tons of carbon annually, far exceeding the amount produced by Mainers.

Maine releases less than one percent of the carbon emissions in the United States and essentially all of it is consumed by Maine’s forests. This bill would have no measurable impact on global temperatures or in reducing carbon emissions, in Maine or the United States. 

State offices and departments can make environmentally friendly investments if they make sense financially, but going out of our way to waste taxpayer dollars, just to appease clean energy advocates, is simply bad governance.