Law will let public voice opinion on wind energy development

October 28, 2013 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

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AUGUSTA, Maine — The state is taking steps toward better use of sustainable, renewable energy, due to new laws that took effect this month.

One law that makes improvements to the Wind Energy Act was sponsored by state Reps. Deane Rykerson, D-Kittery, Roberta Beavers, D-South Berwick, and Paul McGowan, D-York.

“Wind energy development has been successful in Maine,” Rykerson said. “Maine is among the Top 5 states in the country in the per capita production of renewable energy. We can be No. 1.”

The law will change the wind energy development permitting process so the public will have the opportunity to voice their opinion before a permit for development is granted. The Department of Environmental Protection will require best practices to reduce environmental impacts from wind development. The law also protects certain sensitive ecosystems from wind energy development.

Beavers said the law will improve the substance and process for permitting.

“This will bring balance to the permitting process,” said Beavers, lead sponsor of the measure. “By giving the public a voice in the matter, DEP can be better informed to make good decisions.”

“Asking for the people’s opinion is important,” McGowan said. “The new law will be good for communities and good for the environment.”

McGowan also sponsored a new law that focuses on plans for Maine’s energy future.

“This is about recognizing our options for a sustainable future,” he said. “We need to focus on using renewable energy so we’ll have resources tomorrow.”

The new law requires the Governor’s Energy Office to draft a comprehensive, state energy plan and requires DEP to draft a climate action plan with clear goals in fossil fuel reduction, energy efficiency and promotes the use of renewable energy. The state energy plan will include a section devoted to wind energy development.

Heidi Brugger of 350 Maine, an environmental grassroots movement, testified in support of the measure in March before the Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee.

“We need to concentrate on ways to make energy efficiency affordable for homeowners,” she said. “This is a way to address proactive methods to reduce dependence on fossil fuels.”

Beavers and Rykerson serve on the Legislature’s Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee. McGowan serves on the Environment and Natural Resources Committee.


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