As a former chair of the Maine Legislature’s Committee on Energy, Utilities and Technology, I recognize great leadership on renewable-energy issues. I’ve stood firm in support of solar and other renewable-energy investment in Maine in recent years, in favor of both jobs and a cleaner environment.

A common refrain about a deficiency with government is the lack of coordination and collaboration across the federal, state and local governments. While this frustration can easily be justified, when federal and local leaders work closely together on common goals, the benefits can be meaningful. And in this time of renewable-energy growth in Maine, this concept of working across all levels of government is particularly meaningful.

The benefits of federal and local leaders working together can be especially meaningful in the clean-energy sector, where the nexus between these government sectors can be particularly acute as well as impactful.

Take, for instance, the rapid increase in homeowners and businesses in Maine who are interested in saving money and reducing pollution by installing rooftop solar and energy storage technologies. While a variety of federal, state and local laws exist that were designed to help drive deployment and adoption of these technologies, no laws exist that urge them to work together.

Thankfully, U.S. Sen. Susan Collins is working in a bipartisan fashion with U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich, a Democrat from New Mexico, on legislation (S.2447) to do just that. Their legislation would help ensure that local permitting issues do not needlessly delay and frustrate individuals who want a clean-energy future. The legislation would create a voluntary framework for localities in Maine, whether Augusta or Portland, by giving them the technical assistance to help create the infrastructure necessary, like an online permitting portal.

As Maine continues its turn toward cleaner sources of energy, it is more important than ever that government works together to respond to the demand for clean energy. While this legislation will not solve every problem under the sun, it has the promise of making the local permitting process for clean energy as seamless as possible.

That will help create a lasting benefit for Maine and hopefully set a new precedent for coordination and collaboration between federal, state and local governments.

This type of problem solving and creativity is desperately needed in the renewable-energy space in Maine and across the country. And it is not exclusive to Republicans, Democrats or independent voters. With a new future ahead of us, we should celebrate the type of leadership that Sen. Collins is providing in this space.


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