It can be rough when gas and electricity prices are up and April feels like May, but we are hopeful for our future. Maine has set important goals to help mitigate impending climate change-related disasters,, including reducing our greenhouse-gas emissions by 45 percent by 2030 and 80 percent by 2050. We can meet these goals while strengthening our local economy if we make smart investments at the right pace.

We must pivot away from our dependence on costly, imported fossil fuels and toward Maine-made renewable energy resources that emit the fewest greenhouse-gas emissions possible. Clean electricity generation is heavy on upfront investment costs but is inexpensive to maintain over decades. Because local renewables don’t rely on fuel sources prone to price swings, these projects end up stabilizing rates and can save money over the long run – if we don’t pay more than we need to for them.

According to 2021 data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, Maine’s average price for electricity ranked 10th highest in the country, at about 18 cents per kilowatt-hour. And we have witnessed recent electricity rate increases, largely because of natural gas costs, that are unaffordable for many Mainers. According to a report published by the Office of the Public Advocate in 2019, Mainers with low incomes spend the most money on energy – with the average home energy burden totaling 19 percent of household income. While everyone would benefit from lower electricity bills, reducing energy costs would particularly support Mainers who are at risk of energy poverty.

A key bill (L.D. 1634) we are spearheading together this session – as an elected representative and young climate justice activist with Maine Youth Action – establishes the Maine Generation Authority, a state entity similar to the Maine Turnpike Authority, but for renewables, not roads. The authority would issue low-cost revenue bonds, backed by electricity ratepayers, to finance new renewable generation and storage projects in Maine. The authority would be capable of meeting the total demand of our in-state low-carbon electricity needs at an affordable price to ratepayers because of its access to cheap capital. Think of it like buying a house or paying off a college debt with 3 percent interest instead of 8 percent.

Another way to facilitate this energy generation would be through L.D. 1350, Report C, an amendment that empowers the Efficiency Maine Trust to affordably finance renewable-energy projects using an existing contracting process at the Public Utilities Commission.

The reality is that we must rapidly decarbonize our electricity grid to mitigate the climate crisis, and we must find effective and affordable ways to do so. The Maine Generation Authority and L.D. 1350, Report C, provide us a pathway forward. As energy economist Richard Silkman’s research shows us, we will save tens of billions of dollars in our clean-energy transition over the next decades if we pass these bills. We simply will not be able to afford a cleaner future if we don’t spend our money wisely.

Legislation to establish the Maine Generation Authority is currently being considered by the Maine  Legislature. We encourage you to call your legislators in support of L.D. 1634 and L.D. 1350, Report C, to advocate for accelerated renewable-energy generation, local jobs and lower costs to ratepayers like yourself.

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