Don't expect your power lines to turn green from the green electrons running through them.  But the more home-grown renewable power we can feed into the grid, the less natural gas we'll be importing.

Green Grid Power News

Maine's Conversation About Green Power From the Grid

"The Grid"  is the network of power lines that transport and deliver electricity to most of our homes and businesses. We can buy the standard offer energy supply, which comes mostly from natural gas, or we can buy energy made from renewable sources. We welcome your questions and answers about green grid power and the smart grid here.  Join the conversation today and check back here often!

osprey nest atop power grid poles

 
 
Grid-Scale Energy Storage Grows in Maine
01/08/2017 - 4:05pm

Convergents grid scale energy storage units in Boothbay Maine image courtesy of Convergent Energy and PowerFollowing on a pilot energy storage system built in Boothbay in 2015 (pictured), NextEra Energy Resources, operator of the Wyman Station oil-fired power plant on Cousin’s Island in Yarmouth has installed a giant battery the size of 8 shipping containers in a warehouse on the site. The facility has a storage capacity of 16.2 megawatts of power, the largest in New England and a significant percentage of the 30-100 MW needed to meet New England’s power needs on a given day.

Battery storage is hailed as a “non-transmission alternative” way to even out the highs and lows of both energy demand and the intermittent power supply from renewable sources like solar and wind power. Ellen Foley of ISO-New England is quoted as saying, “The role of grid-scale electricity storage will grow as the region moves closer to its clean-energy goals, while maintaining a reliable power system.”

Read it all in the Press Herald.

Image: Convergent's grid scale energy storage units in Boothbay Maine, courtesy of Convergent Energy and Power.

5-Megawatt Solar Farm Comes Online in Madison
01/08/2017 - 2:21pm

grid-scale solar image courtesy of NREL.On December 29, 2016, Madison Electric Works announced that its municipally-owned solar farm is ready to start powering homes and businesses. The project in Somerset County, being called the largest in Maine, was built and is owned by Ohio-based IGS Solar. ISG will sell the power to MEW at 7.99 cents per kWh for the first six years, at which time the utility may decide to buy the plant.

Madison Electric Works is a department of the Town of Madison, serving electric customers in the downtown area, Madison Business Gateway, and Backyard Farms. It is a Member of North East Public Power Association (NEPPA).

Read it all in the Morning Sentinel.

Grid-scale solar image courtesy of NREL.

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.

Lawmakers Uphold LePage's Veto of Solar Bill
05/09/2016 - 1:42pm

Solar panels Image courtesy of humble Farmer.On April 28, 2016, the Maine House voted to uphold Governor LePage’s veto of L.D. 1649, “An Act To Modernize Maine's Solar Power Policy and Encourage Economic Development,” which would have made comprehensive changes to the solar industry in the state. 

LePage’s veto came from his belief that the bill would have raised energy prices on all ratepayers in the state. LePage stated that the bill would increase the costs of doing business in Maine as well as for homes and businesses that cannot afford solar panels “by tens of millions of dollars – picking winners and losers in Maine’s energy mix.” The bill would have increased rates around the fourth year of its plan, adding about 31 cents to the average homeowner’s electric bill, but it also would have drastically increased access to community solar farms, which benefits ratepayers who could not otherwise afford to install solar systems. Read University of Maine economics professor Sharon Klein’s explanation here.

The bill failed by just two votes to achieve a two-thirds majority needed to overturn the veto, losing 96-52. When Democratic leaders brought the bill back for a second vote, it lost again 93-50. Republican lawmakers, Michael Timmons of Cumberland, Brian Hobart of Bowdoinham, MaryAnn Kinney of Knox and John Pichiottti of Fairfield, were accused of “taking a walk” when they voted to override the governor the first time and then failed to vote in the bill’s subsequent appearance.

To read more about this issue, see the Portland Press Herald’s coverage here.

Image courtesy of humble Farmer.

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.

Proposal on Solar Now in Augusta
03/03/2016 - 2:02pm

solar panels image courtesy of humble FarmerOn February 25 2016, a coalition of stakeholders - including solar companies, environmental groups, and utility companies - presented to the Legislature a proposal for new solar energy projects in Maine.

The proposal seeks to increase Maine’s current solar capacity to 250 megawatts in the next five years. As part of this, the proposal seeks to end net metering, a popular system that credits utility customers one-to-one on the amount of energy they generate for the grid. That is, customers of CMP and Emera who sometimes draw power from the grid and sometimes send power to it (from their solar panels or other renewable source) pay only for the “net” amount used on their monthly bill.

Net metering has been popular among solar advocates because it has spurred development and provided incentive for consumers to install solar projects. In the absence of net metering, grid-tied consumers would still be credited for their excess electricity, but it would be tied to a rate set by the Maine Public Utilities Commission, guaranteed for 20 years.

Proponents say the proposal strikes a balance between growing solar, creating jobs, and protecting rate payers and utility companies.

For more information about this issue, continue reading at the Portland Press Herald. Read the proposal here.

Image courtesy of humble Farmer.

E2Tech Hosts its First Expo Oct. 1
09/28/2015 - 9:45pm

Environmental and Energy Technology Council of Maine E2TechThe Environmental & Energy Technology Council of Maine (E2Tech) and its partners are pleased to host the inaugural E2Tech Expo on October 1, 2015. Events include keynotes from a Fortune 50 company and a venture capital firm; its first-ever “E2Tech Talks” on Maine’s local and global food movements; a high-level plenary panel on cleantech markets, technologies, and public policies; workshops on energy policy, workforce development & career connections, sustainability in the supply chain, and cluster development and seed funding; and dozens of tables featuring environmental and energy companies, products, services, and resources.

You may see the agenda and register here.

King Proposes Bill to Promote Personal Energy Independence
06/01/2015 - 12:20pm

Senator Angus King of Maine image courtesy of Angus KingOn May 6, 2015, Senator Angus King of Maine introduced The Free Market Energy Act of 2015, which would establish a set of parameters for the governance of distributed energy resources (DER) such as solar power, stored energy or demand response. Existing policies discourage investment in DER. For example, utilities may levy expensive grid-connection fees on consumers who pursue newer technologies, while current net metering formulas may not properly compensate grid owners when these new technologies are connected.

The proposed act would protect the right of consumers to connect their distributed resources to the grid for a reasonable price while also ensuring that grid owners and operators receive proper compensation to maximize the potential of DER in relation to the grid. The act would also retain the authority of each state to design its own set of rules within its parameters, to properly reflect the state’s needs.

Read the bill here.

New Law Permits Maine EV Charging Stations to Charge for Power
05/01/2015 - 10:38am

The electric vehicle charging station at the South Portland Community Center in Maine photo by Kay MannThe Greater Portland Council of Governments reports that Governor LePage signed a new law allowing the owners of public electric vehicle charging stations to charge customers a fee for kilowatt usage when they plug in their Electric Vehicles.

The law will provide an incentive for more electric vehicle service equipment (EVSE) to be installed throughout the state, providing EV owners more places to charge their vehicles, over the current 44. The law will go into effect 90 days after the Legislature finishes its 2015 session.

Read more from GPCOG. And, see where the charging stations are at this time.

Maine Islanders Study Danish Energy Ways
01/18/2015 - 6:22pm

Samso Island, Denmarks Energy Academy photo courtesy of Samso Energy AcademyIn October of 2014, a group of 5 Mainers from Peaks and Monhegan Islands and 15 College of the Atlantic students traveled to Denmark's Samso Island to attend the Samso Energy Academy and learn about their "Fossil-Free Island" project.

Samso Island is becoming energy independent by using wind and solar power and geothermal and biomass heat. Read a great New York times article that details what they learned there.

Image: Samso Energy Academy photo courtesy of Samso Energy Academy.