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Patrick Woodcock, Director
Lisa J. Smith, Senior Planner
The mission of the Maine Governor's Energy Office (GEO) is to create effective public and private partnerships that advance Maine's energy security, economic development, and environmental health.
Maine Energy Action Plan
The GEO is responsible for planning and coordinating state energy policy and serves as the primary energy policy advisor to the Governor. As the designated State Energy Office, the GEO is charged with providing leadership in the development of public and private partnerships that achieve clean, reliable, affordable, efficient, sustainable, indigenous and renewable energy resources. It is the responsibility of the GEO to work in conjunction with other departments of State government, the Legislature, and private and nonprofit sectors to advance and optimize Maine's energy security, economic development and environmental health. Maine's energy objectives are supported in part through GEO oversight and administration of the U.S. State Energy Program (SEP) funds and priorities.
Maine has the 12th highest electricity prices in the United States. Natural gas and oil are the primary fuels for more than 70% of the electricity capacity in Maine. However, Maine has one of the highest renewable standards in the nation, requiring 40% of total retail electricity sales to come from renewable resources by 2017. Maine is also highly dependent on fossil fuel products to heat its homes, buildings and factories. Maine businesses and residences are approximately 75 percent dependent on fossil fuels for heating purposes and nearly 100 percent reliant on petroleum for transportation. The high percentage of households and businesses that depend on imported sources of petroleum drains dollars out of the state. The price and supply of oil in Maine are driven not only by the market forces of supply and demand that influence other commodities, but also by U.S. domestic and foreign policy decisions. Other market forces have a large impact on the petroleum industry, including product seasonality, curtailments (such as refinery outages), and acts of nature.
The high prices of electricity and petroleum are growing factors in state economic uncertainty and energy insecurity. The GEO is pursuing a short- and long-term strategy to pursue energy security with clean, reliable, affordable, sustainable, indigenous resources and increased access to natural gas supplies where economically feasible.
The Maine Energy Action Plan consists of five main components:
1. Decreasing Electricity Prices and Overall Energy Costs
In the 125th Legislature, the Governor proposed legislation to remove barriers to the eligibility of renewable resources to produce inexpensive electricity (e.g., eliminating the 100MW cap on renewable energy in the RPS). In order to ensure an affordable, adequate and reliable supply of electricity for Maine residents and to encourage the use of renewable, efficient and indigenous resources, it is the Governor's Energy Office policy to diversify electricity production resources on which residents rely. This will help open the market to all cost-effective generation sources. If the objective is to increase the diversity of renewable generation options, renewable generation such as large-scale hydro should be considered and not be constrained by artificially restrictive renewable criteria. The GEO will continue to pursue policies to reduce electric rates for consumers and increase long-term economic benefits through lower energy costs for businesses.
2. Extending Natural Gas Services and Transmission Infrastructure to Maine Consumers – Residential, Commercial and Industrial
Natural gas will remain and grow as a primary source of fuel in utility, residential, commercial and industrial sectors while we aggressively pursue increased use of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies. Although natural gas itself is a fossil fuel, it is a cheaper and cleaner-burning than oil and could provide a more environmentally-friendly bridge between Maine's current consumption of fossil fuels and harnessing its abundant renewable energy resources. The Governor's Energy Office works with natural gas companies, regulators, potential customers, communities, neighboring states and provinces and other stakeholders to expand natural gas infrastructure throughout the State.
3. Strengthening Energy Efficiency, Conservation and Weatherization and Fostering Renewable Energy
Maine is a leader in renewable power production and has the capability to design, manufacture and deploy renewable energy equipment in Maine, nationally and internationally. The State has extensive on-shore and off-shore wind resources, a well-established forest products industry for biomass, significant tidal power opportunities, numerous hydro facilities and cost-effective energy efficiency and conservation policies and programs. Future public policy to encourage renewable energy and energy efficiency must factor in economic conditions, citizen concerns, effective permitting processes and the uncertainty of financing options.
On the electricity side, the GEO is exploring least-cost means to invest in cost-effective renewable generation, such as long-term contracts and power purchase agreements. On the heating side, the GEO is working with Maine businesses to identify proven cost-effective technologies that households and small businesses can use to lower energy costs while collaborating with the financial community to provide access to capital to invest in these technologies.
4. Reducing Oil Use by 50% by 2050
Petroleum will remain a part of Maine's energy portfolio for some time and Maine's oil dealers will continue to help keep Mainers warm in the long, cold winters. At the same time, Maine is dependent on a world oil market that remains unstable and prices are extremely volatile across nations, states and regions. In the short–term we can provide advice and information on energy efficiency improvements to homes, vehicles, buildings and factories. In the medium and long term, we can pursue strategies to achieve energy security with clean, reliable, affordable renewable energy resources as well as expanding access to natural gas supplies. The State's focus must be on those areas we can reasonably identify and respond to in the short-term within the fiscal, technical and personnel resources available. The Governor's Energy Office is committed to working with Maine citizens, businesses, members of Congress and other partners to take steps to reduce the impact on Maine's most vulnerable citizens. The GEO is looking at ways to reduce oil use in all sectors of the Maine economy, including transportation and heating applications. The plan will be designed to meet oil consumption targets, focus on near-term policies and infrastructure changes, prioritize energy efficiency and alternative energy sources for heating and transportation, and include a cost and resource estimate for technology development needed to meet targets.
5. Preparing an Energy Assurance and Emergency Preparedness and Response Plan
The Governor's Energy Office prepares the Energy Assurance and Emergency Management Plan to provide the Federal government, Governor, the Legislature, the Executive Departments, the energy industry and the general public with a clear, concise and comprehensive blueprint to address a potential or actual energy emergency caused by a supply disruption, a rapid and unsustainable increase in energy prices or other energy emergency situation. The development of the Plan recognizes a clear need to expand and enhance Maine's expertise in energy planning and to improve the ability to track Maine's critical energy infrastructure for energy assurance and emergency purposes.
Through these five overarching strategies, the GEO will chart a clear pathway to guide the State of Maine into a sustainable, reliable, secure, affordable, and environmentally responsible energy future.