AUGUSTA – When you turn on a light, a certain percentage of the electricity you are using comes from renewable energy sources such as wind, water, solid waste or biomass.
Each year, electric utility companies must show they are relying on a greater percent of renewable energy. The goal, as Maine law stands now, is for 10 percent of electricity to come from new forms of renewable generation by 2017.
Under legislation introduced Thursday by Gov. Paul LePage, electricity providers would be able to stay at current levels of 4 percent of supply sources coming from new renewable energy instead of increasing the number each year.
The goal of the bill, L.D. 1570, is to lower the price of electricity for Maine consumers, said Kenneth Fletcher, director of the Office of Energy Independence and Security for the governor. Maine has the 12th-highest electricity prices in the nation, he said, costing $350 million more per year than the national average.
Some people, however, say the bill discourages the use of “green” energy in Maine and that it sets the wrong tone for potential developers examining whether to build renewable energy facilities, such as those for wind turbine or tidal power projects.
While electricity derived from renewable energy is not necessarily more expensive to produce than other forms of electricity generation, such as from natural gas, the cost is rooted in items called renewable energy certificates, Fletcher said. Electricity suppliers in Maine must purchase the certificates to prove they are meeting state renewable portfolio standards, and the cost is passed on to consumers, he said.
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