Maine’s Clean Energy Update
A window into the transition from writing the laws to making it work
Maine Renewable Energy Association (MREA) members and Bernstein Shur clients heard from key PUC, Energy Office and Maine DEP decision-makers at “Maine’s Clean Energy Update: A window into the transition from writing laws to making it work” on October 30 at Bernstein’s Portland Offices. Jeremy Payne, Executive Director of MREA, opened the session noting the very significant accomplishments of the MREA and Bernsteins’ Governmental Affairs group in Augusta in the recently completed legislative session on clean energy legislation.
Dan Burgess, Governor Mills’ Director of the Governor’s Energy Office, briefed the group on accomplishments of the Mills Administration and Legislature on setting new aggressive climate action and renewable energy goals and initiatives into action. He also touched on Governor Mills’ continued leadership initiatives with Maine’s Climate Action Council among other initiatives.
Mitch Tannebaum, General Counsel to the Maine Public Utilities Commission (PUC), addressed the major energy initiatives enacted this last session including the solar net metering changes, community solar provisions for small renewable projects and the RPS expansion as well as grid-scale renewable procurement laws. Mr. Tannebaum addressed the complexity and interrelationship of the initiatives and the status of each rulemaking with the Maine Commission. Nick Livesay, the Director of the Maine DEP’s Land Resource Bureau provided the group with a focused presentation on Maine’s environmental permitting statutes, thresholds and process at the DEP. Mr. Livesay also discussed Maine DEP’s consideration of specific permitting processes for solar development in light of the expected influx of applications from solar developers under the series of laws Messers Burgess and Tannebaum described.
David Littell, Energy and Environmental attorney at Bernstein Shur, and former Maine PUC and Maine DEP Commissioner, recognized the accomplishments of the Mills Administration and Maine Legislature and substantial experience and talent in attendance. David noted this substantial clean energy investor interest in Maine is precisely what the Mills Administration and Legislature intended with the recent legislation putting Maine in company with other clean energy states. David also addressed traps for the unwary and causes of delay in the Maine DEP and ISO-NE processes, strategies to reduce costs and meet regulatory compliance, and the rules and process before the PUC that will be critical to having projects prepared to meet the statutory deadlines in the PUC process.