AUGUSTA – Rep. Norman Higgins is being honored by Maine Audubon as a 2016 Environmental Champion for his work on a bipartisan comprehensive solar measure this legislative session.
Higgins, R-Dover-Foxcroft, played a pivotal role in the development of the bill to create a comprehensive solar policy for the state. Maine is the only New England state without one and is also in the region’s last place for solar development and job creation.
“I’m honored by this recognition,” said Higgins. “Our state needs this policy to put solar power within reach of more Mainers, and this bill would have pushed solar inland and north. I am committed to working with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to build a more vibrant economy.”
As a member of the Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee, Higgins took part in crafting the bill, which came out of the work of a broad stakeholders group. Higgins, along with fellow committee member Sen. David Woodsome, R-North Waterboro, also coauthored an amendment that put a new emphasis on different kinds of solar development, including agricultural solar.
The bill would have created 650 new jobs by growing new solar markets, protected 300 existing jobs, increased installation tenfold and created between $58 million and $110 million in ratepayer savings
The House fell three votes short of overriding the governor’s veto of the bill.
Two other legislators, Woodsome and Assistant House Majority Leader Sara Gideon, also earned the distinction of Environmental Champion. Maine Audubon applauds the three lawmakers for their “tremendous efforts to pass comprehensive legislation.”
“Supporting Maine’s homegrown solar industry is an incredible opportunity to protect our environment, grow our clean energy economy and create good-paying jobs of the future,” said Gideon, D-Freeport. “I thank Maine Audubon for its support and for highlighting the incredible efforts of the broad coalition that has come together to support forward-thinking energy policy for our state.”
Gideon sponsored legislation that created the stakeholder process and also led negotiations on LD 1649 this year.