AUGUSTA, Maine — Gov. John Baldacci held a ceremonial bill signing Wednesday for a measure that aims to encourage communities and homeowners to invest in wind turbines and other smaller-scale renewable energy projects.
The bill, LD 1075, creates a six-year pilot program to test the effectiveness of incentives for community groups and individuals interested in developing renewable energy projects, such as wind turbines and solar power.
The measure directs the state to develop one incentive program offering community groups or individuals long-term power-purchasing contracts. These contracts will help the projects gain financing by allowing the small-scale power generators to sell electricity directly to the Public Utilities Commission at a fixed rate for up to 20 years.
The second incentive option offers individuals and community-based power generators a 50 percent multiplier in “renewable energy credits,” or RECs. Those credits, each equivalent to 1,000 kilowatts of electricity, can then be bought and sold on the REC market.
Finally, the bill directs the PUC to begin offering electricity users the option of purchasing 100 percent Maine-produced renewable energy. Consumers will pay more for “green energy.”
Wednesday’s bill-signing ceremony was attended by a variety of groups and organizations, ranging from Maine Rural Partners to a group of Blue Hill-area residents interested in tapping into the program for a community-based wind project.
Rep. Herb Adams, a Portland Democrat who sponsored one of the bills that was incorporated into LD 1075, said the bill generated the most citizen involvement of any measure on which he has worked.
Baldacci also noted the diverse crowd gathered in his office for the ceremonial signing.
“This doesn’t happen in Washington, and it doesn’t happen in Augusta,” Baldacci said. “It happens in local communities … from the ground up.”