More than a couple bankers and government agents are trying to offer us cheap loans for weatherization and efficient ice boxes and all.  I'll confess to indulging in a chest freezer for my deer meat.

Financial News

The Financial Side of Clean Energy

It's going to take a lot of investment monies to power this shift to clean energy.  With "green loans", tax incentives, grants and direct investments, Mainers can put  together the financing they need.  We'll keep you up to date on all the options as they come and go. 

photo of a bank edifice

 
 
Seven Maine Businesses Receive REAP Grants for Energy Improvements
03/12/2017 - 4:16pm

USDA logo courtesy of USDAUSDA Rural Development Acting State Director Tommy R. Higgins announced on March 2, 2017 that seven Maine businesses have been selected to receive Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) grants totaling $77,500 for the purchase and installation of solar energy systems and energy efficiency improvements. Here is the list of recipients:

FEDCO Seeds, Inc.
Harpswell Freezers, LLC.
Power Gripps, USA, Inc.
Solar Center, LLC
Trippcrest Farm
Waldoboro Environmental Park, Inc.
Wilbur B. Bradbury, dba Bradbury Maple

Read what they are going to do with the money on the USDA’s Maine page.

USDA logo courtesy of USDA.

Feds Throw Lifeline to Maine’s Forest Products Industry
02/05/2017 - 7:40pm

SAPPIs Skowhegan woodyard courtesy of SAPPIOn January 18, 2017, the US Economic Development Administration announced a series of grants and initiatives aimed at breathing new life into Maine’s ailing forest products industry by helping industry leaders create a vision and roadmap for the sector. These will include forging a collaboration between Oak Ridge National Laboratory, University of Maine and the US Department of Energy, to find new opportunities for biomass energy for combined heat and power, microgrid and cutting edge research related to biofuels.

The news is welcomed by the Maine Forest Products Council and the Professional Logging Contractors of Maine as a way to carry the industry into a future of stable prosperity.

Read the full report of the Economic Development Assessment Team (EDAT).  Or, read the full story in Mainebiz.

Image credit: SAPPI’s Skowhegan woodyard courtesy of SAPPI.

MPUC Defers Decision on Net Metering Rule Changes
01/08/2017 - 1:51pm

Photo of Mark Vannoy courtesy of the Maine Public Utilities CommissionOn December 19, 2016, the Maine Public Utilities Commission announced a delay in handing down a decision about a controversial set of proposed rule changes to Maine’s net metering law.

Commission Chairman Mark Vannoy was quoted as saying, ”This is an important rule and more time is needed to consider the proposed rule in light of the comments we received to ensure that the rule treats all ratepayers in a fair manner. It remains clear that changes in technology and costs of small renewable generation, particularly solar photo-voltaic, require a careful review of the current rule and potential modifications."

The 128th Maine Legislature, which has just opened it 2017 session, will also be considering changes to net metering laws.

Read more in Mainebiz and read the announcement on the MPUC website.

Photo of Mark Vannoy courtesy of the Maine Public Utilities Commission.

Maine Prepares to Export Wood Chips
11/13/2016 - 2:52pm

image of wood chips courtesy of DOEAs of November 8, 2016, the ports of Searsport and Eastport, Maine are announcing that they are prepared to begin exporting wood chips to India and the European Union, to be used as power generation feedstock, as soon as 2017.

Preparations have been underway since 2009 and involve perfecting a process called phytosanitation for heat treating the wood product to kill insects before transit. The news is being welcomed by Maine’s biomass industry, which has been dogged by paper mill closures and low oil prices for the past several years.

Read the full story in the Portland Press Herald or in Mainebiz.

Image of wood chips courtesy of DOE.

DOE Invests in Maine Tidal Power Company
09/17/2016 - 8:37pm

ORPC's TidGen turbine generator unit being readied for installation at Cobscook Bay Tidal Energy Project site image courtesy of ORPCOn August 31, 2016, U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King announced that Ocean Renewable Power Company (ORPC) of Portland, Maine will receive $5,350,000 through the Department of Energy to enhance the performance of its tidal turbine system.  ORPC was one of 10 organizations across the country to receive funding to support the development of a commercially viable marine and hydrokinetic industry.

ORPC plans to use the grant to enhance the performance of its tidal turbine system by integrating several advanced component technologies. The device's novel floating design will move the turbine near the surface to capture higher flow velocities and will help reduce the cost of installation and on-water operations, ultimately lowering the cost of energy. This project will demonstrate and monitor turbine performance during its deployment in Cobscook Bay.

Read the announcement from Senator Collins.

Read the Energy Department’s announcement.

Image credit: ORPC's TidGen® turbine generator unit being readied for installation at Cobscook Bay Tidal Energy Project site, courtesy of ORPC.

Twin Solar Arrays to Appear on Closed Landfills
09/17/2016 - 7:14pm

solar panels image courtesy of wikipediaBoth Portland and South Portland are moving forward with plans to install solar power plants atop closed landfills.

On September 7, 2016, the Portland City Council voted unanimously to authorize its city manager to negotiate a power purchase agreement (or PPA) with Revision Energy to build a 660-killiwatt solar array on the Ocean Ave. landfill. The array is expected to save the city more than $3.2 million in energy costs over its lifetime.

The city of South Portland is planning an identical array for its closed landfill. The joint negotiation by the two cities with the installer has served to lower costs for both projects. The initial $150,000 that each city will invest over the first six years of its project is expected to be paid back within 10 years through energy savings.

Read about the recent Portland vote in the Portland Press Herald.

Read about South Portland’s progress in the Portland Press Herald.

Maine Nets $2.2 Million in RGGI Auction
09/17/2016 - 3:00pm

Air pollution image courtesy of publicdomainpictures.netOn September 9, 2016, the Maine Public Utilities Commission announced the results of the 33rd auction of carbon dioxide (CO2) allowances by the nine Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states participating in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), the nation’s first market-based regulatory program to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution.

The September 7th auction was the third auction of 2016, and generated $67.7 million.  There were 14,911,315 CO2 allowances were sold at the auction at a clearing price of $4.54.  Bids for allowances ranged from $2.10 to $12.65 per allowance.  The money generated is allocated among the nine RGGI States which in turn utilize and invest the funds pursuant to state laws and rules. 

Maine’s portion of Auction 33 proceeds is about $2.2 million.  Since RGGI’s inception, Maine has received $81.8 million which has been used to finance rate relief, energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.  Many of these programs and projects are managed through the Efficiency Maine Trust.  

“I am pleased that the market monitor has reported that Auction 33 was a competitive auction with no indication of market manipulation or collusion,” said MPUC Commissioner Carlisle McLean, who also serves as the RGGI Inc. Treasurer.  She also said, “RGGI continues to make strides toward a clean, low-cost electricity system while also providing revenue for each state to invest to their advantage.  Although one of the smaller RGGI states, Maine continues to benefit from participating in the program.” 

About the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative

The Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states participating in the third RGGI control period (Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont) have implemented a mandatory market-based regulatory program in the U.S. to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  The 2016 RGGI cap is 86.5 million short tons. The RGGI cap declines 2.5 percent each year until 2020.  The RGGI states also include interim adjustments to the RGGI cap to account for banked CO2 allowances.  The 2016 RGGI adjusted cap is 64.6 million short tons.  RGGI is composed of individual CO2 budget trading programs in each state, based on each state’s independent legal authority.  A CO2 allowance represents a limited authorization to emit one short ton of CO2, as issued by a respective state. A regulated power plant must hold CO2 allowances equal to its emissions for each three-year control period.  RGGI’s third control period began on January 1, 2015 and extends through December 31, 2017. For more information visit www.rggi.org.

Image credit: Air pollution image courtesy of publicdomainpictures.net.

REAP Awards Sow Seeds of Energy Investment
05/20/2016 - 10:18pm

hands forking over money with a spading fork image by Harold RobertsOn May 11, 2016, The USDA Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) announced the winners of its latest round of Renewable Energy Development Assistance Grants.

Development Assistance Awards went to:

The Greater Portland Council of Governments: $100,000 to identify renewable energy technologies for agricultural producers and rural small businesses and promote energy programs.

and:

The College of the Atlantic: $64,650 to educate Hancock County business owners and agricultural producers about solar energy options and solutions.

The USDA Rural Development program helps increase American energy independence by increasing the private sector supply of renewable energy and decreasing the demand for energy through energy efficiency improvements. Over time, these investments can also help lower energy costs for small businesses and agricultural producers.

Read about the development awards in Mainebiz.

Maine Governor Signs Biomass Bailout Bill
05/07/2016 - 5:14pm

biomass hopper at Colby College image courtesy of Colby CollegeOn April 16, 2016, Maine’s Governor signed a $13.5 million biomass bailout bill, LD 1676: “An Act To Establish a Process for the Procurement of Biomass Resources”, into law after it passed both houses on April 15.

The bill would authorize the Maine Public Utilities Commission to purchase up to 80 MW of power from Maine’s remaining biomass energy plants at above-market prices over two years in order to shore up demand. Funding for these purchases would come from the state’s “Rainy Day Fund” of surplus tax revenues, rather than from an increase in electricity rates, as originally proposed.

Supporters see the bill as essential to the preservation of over 1,000  jobs in the logging and biomass industries. Opponents see the bill as “corporate welfare” which will benefit JD Irving and biomass plant owner ReEnergy Holdings, with no guarantee that the plants will remain open.

Read more in the Bangor Daily News and listen to the story on MPBN.

Belfast Turns Dump into Solar Resource
01/23/2016 - 6:03pm

solar panelsIn early January 2016, the city of Belfast began producing solar power from a 122-kilowatt array it had mounted atop its former landfill. In a sort of lease-to-own arrangement, the city signed a power purchase agreement with the owner and installer of the array, Revision Energy. After 6 years of buying the power at a discount, the city will have the option to buy the system at a discount. The system is expected to last for 40 years.

A few other Maine municipalities have entered such PPA agreements, and this is the first one located on a closed landfill. Read the full story in the Free Press.