New Legislation Highlight: Maine

The state’s most recent legislative session was rife with climate change bills.

Here are the highlights:

• LD 1282 establishes a Green New Deal within the state. It is largely a jobs bill. Here are the specifics of LD 1282:

i. Apprenticeships – This bill is looking to create a labor force skilled in the construction of electricity generation facilities. The start date on the construction of any new generation facilities will determine the minimum percentage of apprentices employed on that project.

  • a. 10% apprentice requirement for projects started between 1/1/2021 and 12/31/2024
  • b. 17.5% requirement for projects started between 1/1/2025 and 12/31/2026
  • c. 25% apprentice requirement for projects that begin on or after 1/1/2027

ii. Fines – Violations will be subject to a fine between $50 and $200 per incident.

ii. Incentives – Incentives will be created for cost-effective electric and natural gas conservation projects tied to school construction.

iv. Solar – All new schools will conduct a competitive solicitation for a power purchase agreement for solar to be installed on the property. The solar system may not exceed the estimated annual electricity consumption by the school or 100 kilowatts, whichever is less.

LD 1679 – This bill creates the Maine Climate Council. The Council will develop the action plan and timetable to meet the state’s greenhouse gas reduction goals, to promote jobs and economic benefits for Maine people in the transition to a lower carbon economy, and to support the climate resiliency of Maine’s communities.

The Climate Council will consist of several department commissioners, key state leaders, science and technical experts, business and non-profit leaders, municipal leaders, a tribal representative, and a representative of Maine youth. It will be charged with leading Maine’s efforts to reduce Maine’s Greenhouse Gas emissions by 45% by 2030 and at least 80% by 2050, and with achieving 80% renewable energy in Maine’s electricity sector – specifically energy consumed in Maine – by 2030 and 100% by 2050.

The Climate Council will also convene several working groups from within its membership – including a Scientific and Technical Working Group, a Transportation Working Group, a Coastal and Marine Working Group, and others – to focus on how the state can tackle challenges within these specific areas. In addition to recommending new policy and innovative strategies to reach these emission and energy goals, the Council will update the Maine State Climate Plan every four years, and will solicit input from the public and report out progress on its goals every two years to the people of Maine.

The first Climate Action Plan is due to be submitted to the legislature by December 1, 2020.

LD 658 – This legislation calls for the Governor’s Office to develop a 10-year energy independence plan whereby the state “can become a net exporter of energy through the development and expansion of energy generating capacity within the boundaries of the state and its coastal waters, energy conservation and energy efficiency at levels sufficient to offset the total value of the State’s domestic energy consumption across all sectors. This analysis must identify economic benefits to the State from becoming a net exporter and policies that would be necessary to achieve this outcome.” The state better get moving on this plan, because (per the bill) a progress report is due by December 31, 2019.

LD 1494 – Passed in mid-June, this bill seems a bit redundant to LD 1679. It sets the requirement of electricity sales sources from renewable energy at 80% by 2030 and 100% by 2050.

LD 1614 – This bill simply calls for the creation of a 14-member commission to study the economic, environmental and energy benefits of energy storage to the Maine electricity industry. The commission will meet a minimum of 4 times, has a 7-point directive, and must submit a report to the Joint Standing Committee on Energy, Utilities and Technology by December 4, 2019.

LD 1509 – This 6-page bill slightly modifies the membership of the Technical Building Codes and Standards Board to include the Director of the Efficiency Maine Trust, who serves in an ex officio role and may not vote. It also stipulates that the Maine Uniform Building and Energy Code consists of the IBC, IEBC, IRC, IECC, IMC, ASHRAE 62.1, ASHRAE 62.2, ASHRAE 90.1 and ASTM’s Standard Practice for Radon Control Options for the Design and Construction of New Low-Rise Residential Buildings. Finally, it makes the state code mandatory for municipalities over 4,000 residents. For municipalities with 4,000 residents or less, the enforcement of the code is optional, but the state code is the only code they can adopt and enforce should they choose to have a code.

LD 1543 – This gives the legislative green light to municipalities that want to adopt a stretch code for energy efficiency by creating an appendix to the Maine Uniform Building and Energy Code that contains energy conservation and efficiency requirements that are based on established national voluntary efficiency standards that exceed the energy code requirements established in the state code. The stretch code will be available no later than July 1, 2020.

Governor Janet Mills and the Maine legislature is making a clear commitment to mitigate climate change and reduce its carbon footprint while simultaneously generating employment opportunities for its residents. This is what bold and decisive action looks like.