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Strengthening Maine’s Clean Energy Economy - Maine Governor’s Administration Releases Report

The Maine Governor’s Energy Office (GEO) and Governor’s Office of Policy Innovation and the Future (GOPIF) last week released a report detailing plans to expand Maine’s clean economy workforce, as well as support innovation and training opportunities in renewable power generation and energy efficiency. The report, Strengthening Maine’s Clean Energy Economy, will be incorporated into the Maine Climate Council’s four-year Climate Action Plan expected to be released on December 1, 2020.

Sprung from the 2019 public law that requires the development of a clean energy economy transition plan, as well as Maine’s 10-year economic plan that recommends capitalization on advancements in solar, offshore wind, energy storage, and biofuel technologies, the report provides specific actions to advance Maine’s clean energy sector in the following four categories:

  • Policy and Program Development

  • Workforce Development and Recruitment

  • Cleantech Innovation

  • Equity and Just Transition

Policy and Program Development

The report advises that Maine must have policies and programs specifically targeted toward creating certainty for and high-quality jobs within the clean energy sector, by:

  • implementing clean energy policies that are clear and consistent, and that specifically focus on creating quality jobs;

  • monitoring and adjusting programs to accomplish clean energy and climate goals, though the report is noticeably silent on efforts to remove barriers to permitting; and

  • utilizing and expanding incentives, grants, and financing options for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.

Workforce Development and Recruitment

This category “is the key component of Maine’s transition to a clean energy economy,” the report advises that Maine must attract and develop a clean energy industry workforce by:

  • supporting and promoting Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (STEAM), Career and Technical Education (CTE), and Maine’s community colleges;

  • promoting and encouraging training opportunities and industry participation;

  • prompting industry to provide training or apprenticeship programs and job opportunities;

  • supporting existing programs and incentives, and developing new programs, to incentivize growth in the clean energy sector;

  • attracting companies and workers, conducting market research, developing innovative solutions, and creating jobs through a diverse marketing plan; and

  • launching a workforce initiative (led by the GEO and in partnership with the private sector) that: (a) creates an online database and resource for connecting job and training opportunities in clean energy with potential hires to streamline the job search process, and (b) establishes ongoing stakeholder coordination between industry and educational and training organizations.

Cleantech Innovation

The report acknowledges ongoing innovative energy solutions (such as the New England Aqua Ventus offshore floating turbine, power-to-gas pilot projects, and advancements of integrated hydrokinetics from river and tidal currents), and advises that “the state should not shy away from pilot projects, but find ways to support them cost-effectively as new technologies take time and money to evolve,” by:

  • increasing investment in cleantech innovation and expanding Maine’s entrepreneurial ecosystem to develop and commercialize innovative clean energy products and services;

  • encouraging private and public investment dollars to go toward products and services that advance the state’s climate and clean energy goals;

  • investing in broadband expansion to support business success and growth, as well as to provide the platform for innovative clean energy and grid management solutions; and

  • achieving the state’s goal of 95% broadband deployment by 2025 and striving to serve 99% of the state by 2030 with high-speed access.

Equity and Just Transition

The report advises that the advancement of Maine’s clean energy sector must also ensure equity of job opportunities, affordable energy, and public health benefits across the state, as well as consideration of those who may face adverse impacts from this transition, by:

  • including equity and cost considerations in the development of energy programs, particularly targeted at low to moderate income households, to aid in decreasing overall energy burdens and shift towards low-carbon heat and energy sources;

  • supporting policy solutions that ensure fair distribution of benefits within the state; and

  • identifying opportunities to create programs that will assist energy companies in transitioning to the clean energy economy.

©2021 Pierce Atwood LLP. All rights reserved.National Law Review, Volume X, Number 321

About this Author

Lisa Gilbreath, Pierce Atwood, Environmental lawyer

Lisa Gilbreath is an associate in the Environmental & Land Use and Energy Infrastructure Development, Acquisition & Financing practice groups. Lisa works on a wide variety of environmental and energy matters, offering clients strategic advice in regulatory, legislative, and judicial proceedings.

In her environmental practice, Lisa assists clients with numerous issues including energy project development permitting, energy and environmental litigation, air quality legislative and regulatory activities, air quality enforcement, hazardous substances and...

(207) 791-1397
Matthew D. Manahan, Pierce Atwood LLP, Environmental lawyer

Since 1989 Matt Manahan has worked closely with businesses to find innovative solutions to the environmental law issues they face. He provides strategic counsel in regulatory, legislative, and judicial proceedings involving a broad range of environmental and land use issues, including those relating to energy project development, transfer and development of contaminated property, water use, energy, and Native American regulatory claims.

Matt is adept at stakeholder negotiations, including with state and federal regulators, that are a necessary part of large...

(207) 791-1189
Jared S. des Rosiers energy attorney Pierce Atwood

Jared des Rosiers' practice focuses on complex energy regulatory, infrastructure development and siting, and litigation matters before the Maine Public Utilities Commission (MPUC), the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), and state and federal courts around the country.

In each case, Jared strives to develop a comprehensive strategic plan for success in collaboration with his clients and then to efficiently implement that plan through advocacy, negotiation and creativity.  When litigation is necessary, Jared uses discovery, witness preparation, motion practice, and trial, as...

(207) 791-1390
Sarah Tracy Energy Generation Attorney Pierce Atwood LLP

Sarah advises energy generation facilities and industrial and large commercial energy users with respect to energy and regulatory issues and due diligence matters.  Sarah also represents electric, natural gas, and telecommunications utilities before state regulatory entities. 

Sarah assists energy project owners and developers with due diligence in connection with energy infrastructure acquisitions and negotiates key energy agreements, including power purchase agreements, natural gas supply agreements and firm gas transportation agreements, and renewable energy credit purchase and...