MAINE

MAINE

Home to a population of 1,354,522, Maine remains one of the least populated states in the nation. However, what it lacks in population, it makes up in size. Maine has a total area of approximately 33,215 square miles, almost as large as all of the other New England states combined. Maine is rightly called the Pine Tree State. With deciduous forests in the south and boreal forests in the north, 90% of Maine’s land is tree-covered. Though it’s usually thought of for its lobsters, Maine actually supplies 99% of the nation’s blueberries!  Maine is getting warmer —fast. Temperatures in the state have been steadily rising since records began in 1890. However, more recently, the warming has been speeding up. Since 1960 Maine has been warming at nearly twice the rate. Warming is also associated with shorter winters.

Maine is also getting wetter with precipitation increasing by 15% since 1895, coming in the form of more rain and less snow. Added to extreme weather events, especially along Maine’s coast, runoffs are accelerating to streams and rivers, which impact drinking water. Flooding, wind, and other consequences of this weather cause significant damage to roads, bridges, and properties. A good example of this is the storm in October 2017, the worst in Maine’s history. During that storm, almost a half million people lost  electricity due to damaged power lines which ultimately cost $69 million dollars.

Maine’s shorter winters and more extreme rain events are associated with greater tick and mosquito activity and abundance. With more of these insects come more insect-transmitted disease not just affecting humans, but also harming  populations of endangered species such as Maine moose. Rising sea levels are also challenging Maine. The Gulf of Maine is especially susceptible to fluctuations in sea level due to alterations in the strength of the Gulf Stream and seasonal wind patterns. For example, in Portland, the city with the longest records, the edge of the water has risen 7.5 inches since record-keeping began in 1912. High sealines mean more coastal flooding, which is threatening an estimated 198 miles of Maine roadway and more than 1,200 homes. Tidal flooding caused by sea level rise already has eroded $70 million in coastal real estate value within the state. The risk of storm surge extends many miles inland from the immediate coastline in some areas. More than 20 percent of flood insurance claims come from outside high-risk areas, and even people living in “low risk” areas have been advised to obtain flood insurance.

In June of 2019, Maine passed three pieces of major climate legislation that focus on renewable energy, clean energy jobs, and the general fight against climate change. The bills established the Maine Climate Council, which is charged with reducing the state greenhouse gas emissions by 45% below 1990 levels by 2030, and by 80% by 2050. The Council will also tackle Maine’s energy portfolio makeup with a goal of 100% renewable energy usage by 2050. Along with these hefty objectives, the Council is responsible for the creation of incentives for energy-efficient heating and use of solar panels, as well as the creation of more climate-friendly jobs. The bills gave Maine one of the most ambitious renewable portfolio standard programs in the country.

Before these three bills, Maine had already passed laws to increase the number of electric vehicles, establish goals for the installation of 100,000 energy-efficient heat pumps in homes and businesses state-wide, build an off-shore wind farm, create a Commission to review and evaluate the benefits of energy storage and make policy suggestions for Maine, support the creation and use of clean energy technologies, prepare for the effects of sea level rise, and provide tax clarity for renewable energy facilities.

Maine is well on its way to its 2019 renewable energy goals. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, 80% of Maine’s in-state electricity net generation came from renewable resources in 2019. The state’s energy is approximately 30% hydroelectric, 25% biomass, and almost 25% wind. Although Maine’s energy consumption is only 25% wind, Maine produces two-thirds of all the wind power used in New England. Around 16% of the rest of Maine’s energy comes from natural gas. Maine’s tree cover is what makes it a national leader in biofuels, deriving a lot of its bioenergy from its forests. Solar, petroleum, and coal power make up 2% of Maine’s energy, and the last 3% comes from facilities that primarily burn black liquor waste from pulp mills or municipal and other solid waste materials.

The weather in Maine varies significantly across the state with temperatures that range from the triple digits in the south during the summer to minus 50°F in the far north in winter. For this reason, Maine uses a lot of energy heating and cooling. Heating needs during the frigid winters, along with the energy consumption in the state’s transportation and industrial sectors, give Maine the highest per capita energy use in New England.
From an electricity perspective, Maine’s residential sector accounts for two fifths of all energy consumed in the state, the industrial sector one fourth, and the commercial sector one third.

In what environmental advocates called an important step forward for climate justice, Maine became, in June 2021, the first state to commit through legislation to divest from fossil fuel companies after Gov. Janet Mills signed LD 99, into law directing the $17 billion Maine Public Employee Retirement System to divest $1.3 billion from fossil fuels within five years” and directs the state treasurer to “do the same with other state funds.” The bill was amended to grant the retirement system some flexibility in pursuing a gradual divestment from fossil fuels. “It lines up with our Climate Council work and bipartisan emission reduction goals set by the governor and the legislature,” Representative Margaret O’Neil added, referring to the state’s action plan to decrease greenhouse gas emissions 45 percent by 2030 and 80 percent by 2050.

Maine is one of twenty-four states, plus Puerto Rico, participating in the U.S. Climate Alliance, a bipartisan coalition of governors committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions consistent with the goals of the Paris Agreement.

CURRENT NEWS

PLANS TO ACCELERATE RENEWABLES

Maine won’t wait one-year progress report December 1, 2021

12/01/21
Last year, Maine Won’t Wait was unveiled with a spirit of urgency, but also some uncertainty. While the plan for climate action was rooted in the most detailed scientific assessment of Maine in years, and…

For Climate Week, Governor Mills Celebrates Maine’s Progress Toward Installing 100,000 Heat Pumps by 2025

09/24/21
Dover-Foxcroft, MAINE – During a visit to Dave’s World in Dover-Foxcroft today, Governor Janet Mills announced that more than 28,000 high-efficiency heat pumps have been installed in Maine buildings over the past year, marking a…

Maine Audubon releases renewable energy guidance tools

By BDN Community 09/18/21
With the tremendous opportunities provided by solar and wind energy come potential conflicts with Maine’s wildlife and wildlife habitat. Maine Audubon is committed to striking a balance between new renewable energy development and natural resource…

New program in Portland pushes use of renewable energy

By Chloe Teboe 09/16/21
The new 'Electrify Everything!' program is designed to offer competitive prices for things like solar panels, heat pumps, chargers, etc. to Portland residents.

Collins, Pingree, Golden Announce Nearly $5M in Federal Funding Awarded to Maine Energy Company

09/13/21
Today, Maine’s U.S. Senator Susan Collins and Representatives Chellie Pingree (ME-01) and Jared Golden (ME-02) welcomed news from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) that Yarmouth-based Summit Natural Gas will be receiving a portion of…

Grants awarded for farm robots, energy storage in Maine

08/30/21
A pair of companies in Biddeford and Wiscasset have each received $250,000 grants through the Maine Clean Energy Innovation Challenge.

130th Maine Legislature, First Special Session

07/01/21
An Act To Require Consideration of Climate Impacts by the Public Utilities Commission and To Incorporate Equity Considerations in Decision Making by State Agencies

130th Maine Legislature, First Special Session

07/01/21
An Act To Require the State To Divest Itself of Assets Invested in the Fossil Fuel Industry

Climate Action in Portland, Maine

04/12/19
The City of Portland has committed to reducing community wide greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2050 and transitioning to 100% clean energy for municipal operations by 2040. In addition, the City will need to prepare…

A Climate Action Plan for Maine

04/10/19
Enacted in 2003, Maine's Public Law 237 required the state's Department of Environmental Protection to develop and submit this Climate Action Plan. The CAP includes plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by…

KEY RESOURCES

Climate Driven

01/30/23
The next decade is a critical time for the planet. Scientists say there will need to be a rapid, transformational shift away from fossil fuels to renewable energy to keep global warming to 1.5 degrees…

Maine Solar Panels: Pricing and Incentives

02/02/22
Despite being an early adopter of solar policies, Maine still lags behind much of the country in terms of solar power. The good news is that homeowners in Maine can still save money by investing…

Maine State Profile and Energy Estimates

10/02/21
Maine is the nation's easternmost state. It rises from a jagged Atlantic coastline in the east to the highest point in Maine at Mount Katahdin in the center of the state.1 Although the state has…

Energy State Bill Tracking Database

09/10/21
The searchable Energy Storage Legislation Database displays information in interactive maps and charts, tracking state activity from 2017 to the present.

Environment and Natural Resources State Bill Tracking Database

09/01/21
The National Conference of State Legislatures tracks environment and natural resources bills that have been introduced in the 50 states, territories and Washington, D.C.

The First National Flood Risk Assessment

10/06/20
The First Street Foundation Flood Model represents the culmination of decades of research and development made possible by building upon existing knowledge and frameworks regularly referenced in the identification of flood risk.

The New England Clean Energy Connect (NECEC)

10/06/20
The New England Clean Energy Connect (NECEC) will save Maine consumers millions of dollars each year by harnessing Canadian hydropower and transmitting clean energy into the New England grid.

The Impacts of Climate Change and the Trump Administration’s Anti-Environmental Agenda in Maine

09/19/20
In 2018, Maine experienced one winter storm. The damages of the event led to losses of at least $1 billion.

Maine’s Climate Future: 2020 Update

08/08/20
Climate change is a global phenomenon, and its effects in Maine must be under-stood in the context of changes taking place throughout the world.

State-by-State: Climate Change in Maine

07/31/20
Maine is vulnerable to increasing temperatures, ocean acidification and the spread of Lyme disease. Maine’s climate has already warmed by about three degrees Fahrenheit in the last century. Increasing temperatures are causing spring to arrive…

Efficiency Maine

01/20/20
Renewable Energy Solutions.

Governor’s Energy Office

01/20/20
Efficiency Maine Trust was created to: Consolidate under one roof the funds for Maine's consumer efficiency programs for all fuel types - electric, natural gas, and heating oil - together with consumer alternative energy programs;…

RESOURCES – MAINE RENEWABLE ENERGY ASSOCIATION

01/20/20
The Maine Renewable Energy Association (MREA) is a not-for-profit association of renewable energy producers, suppliers of goods and services to those producers, and other supporters of this industry.

Natural Resources Council of Maine

01/20/20
Currently, Maine gets three-quarters of our electricity from dirty energy sources like coal, natural gas, and other fossil fuels, as well as nuclear. Increasing energy efficiency and the amount of energy that we get from…

Maine Renewable Energy Association

01/20/20
MREA delivers a strong, persistent voice for renewable energy in Maine.

MORE NEWS

A Fight Over America’s Energy Future Erupts on the Canadian Border

David Gelles   05/06/22  
Hundreds of feet below a remote forest near Hudson Bay, Serge Abergel inspected the spinning turbines at the heart of the biggest subterranean power plant in the world, a massive facility that converts the water…

American Lung Association’s “State of the Air” reports on Maine’s air quality

By WABI News Desk   04/22/22  
This year’s “State of the Air” report, released by the American Lung Association, finds Maine still has some of the cleanest air in the country. However, some areas saw mixed progress for some of the…

From record warmth to another snowstorm: this week’s “winter whiplash” could increase with climate change

By Annie Ropeik   02/24/22  
On the heels of record-breaking warmth this week, Maine is set for another winter storm with freezing temperatures Friday. It’s an example of “winter weather whiplash,” which scientists believe may be happening more often as…

A Big Climate Warning from One of the Gulf of Maine’s Smallest Marine Creatures

By Derrick Z. Jackson   02/20/22  
Given the rate at which the waters in the Gulf of Maine are heating up, Mainers may need to swap out the lobsters on their license plates for squid. All of New England could issue…

Getting ready: Efficiency Maine brings home economic benefits, too

By Susan Glick   01/18/22  
Maine is a remarkable place with many advantages. The agency Efficiency Maine is one of them. It offers energy-wise information, advice, rebates and/or loans to homeowners, renters, businesses, electric car purchases, and recommendations for appropriate…

Old Town landfill could turn its gassy emissions into a renewable energy source

By Sawyer Loftus   01/14/22  
A Pennsylvania company is working to build a facility that would turn the methane released by decomposing trash at the Juniper Ridge Landfill in Old Town into pipeline-quality natural gas.

Maine utility reaches deal over solar power expansion

By Christian Wade   01/12/22  
Central Maine Power, the state's largest utility, has reached an agreement with solar power companies over the expansion of the industry in the state.
UPI

Climate change could end Maine’s lobster boom, some fear

By Brooks Hays   01/11/22  
Among the deep underwater valleys off Maine's craggy, crooked coast crawls one of the must lucrative species in American waters -- Homarus americanus, the American lobster.

Green building practices in Maine and how they help plan to combat climate change

01/11/22  
One element of Maine's climate action plan is to transform buildings and homes throughout the state so that they are more environmentally friendly, energy-efficient and sustainable. We'll learn what "green building" entails, and what efforts…

Getting ready: What York’s community survey on climate change revealed

By Susan Glick   01/04/22  
Many of us know that the Town of York is preparing a Climate Action Plan (CAP) to protect our homes, businesses, community and natural world as we find ways to adapt to or prevent the…

As Maine’s climate changes, scallop farming offers optimism

By Hannah Laclaire   01/03/22  
As rapidly warming oceans continue to drive Maine lobster into more remote waters, some in the state’s fishing industry regard sea scallop farming as the prime candidate to help bring added stability to the industry…

Climate change affecting Maine waters is bad for fish and anglers alike

By Bob Mallard   12/31/21  
At the end of September, when most waters I fish in Maine closed to fishing for the season, it was apparent that what I had just seen was no fluke. In fact, it now appears…

How New England bungled its plan to transition to renewable energy

By Aliya Uteuova   12/29/21  
Decarbonization should be a slam dunk, especially in progressive states. But a recent fight over hydropower shows states must listen carefully to voters first

Maine farmers concerned about solar developers using up ‘prime’ farming land

By Talia Clarke   12/27/21  
Carl Wilcox, who owns Intervale Farm in New Gloucester, says he has received more than a dozen offers from solar developers to build on his property but has declined them all. Wilcox isn't against solar…

How you can prepare your homestead as the weather becomes more extreme

By Sam Schipani   12/27/21  
Climate change has affected Maine’s growers in many ways, from warming temperatures potentially shifting the state’s growing zones to a lack of available water compromising wild blueberry crops.

To store greenhouse gases, Maine looks to protect more than 2 Rhode Islands’ worth of forest by 2030

By Susan Sharon   12/24/21  
Around the world, the push is on for large-scale conservation. Scientists say at least 30% of lands, fresh water and oceans need protection by 2030 to slow global warming and prevent species extinctions.

For Christmases yet to come, climate change threatens Maine’s beloved evergreens

By Jennifer Mitchell   12/24/21  
Since the 1800s in Maine, the Christmas tree has been an essential point of light for many in the darkest month of the year. But scientists say that some of the state's best-loved conifers are…

Adapting to a shortening winter, Maine ski areas are increasingly turning to snow making

By Fred Bever   12/21/21  
Winter is losing ground in Maine, and as warming continues it will pose new challenges for the state's winter recreation economy.

Maine’s sparrows are being wiped out by mercury and climate change

By Sam Schipani   12/21/21  
Tidal marsh songbird offspring are less likely to survive long enough to leave the nest when the mother bird has high levels of mercury in its blood, according to new research from the University of…

$7M solar farm in Caribou will power six commercial customers in Maine

By Associated Press   12/21/21  
A $7 million solar farm in Caribou, Maine will power six large commercial customers in the state, following a statewide initiative to develop renewable energy projects in the last three years.

Groups urge bigger targets, more equity as RGGI states consider changes

By Lisa Prevost   12/21/21  
As the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, known as RGGI, undergoes a thorough review by participating states, environmental advocates are demanding more ambitious emission reduction targets and a mandate for equitable distribution of the revenues.

Clam industry growing as climate change warms Gulf of Maine

By Associated Press   12/20/21  
The Bangor Daily News reports northern quahogs are among the state's fisheries that have seen increased harvest volumes and values over the past decade.

The lobster trap

By Penelope Overton   12/12/21  
A hard rain falls all around Johnny McCarthy, beading across the sprawling deck of his brand-new lobster boat, as he steers around the hidden threat of Folly Ledge through an ink-black night and into his…

Amid a flood of solar applications, Maine seeks a more targeted approach

By David Thill   12/02/21  
Two years after opening the gates for small-scale renewable development in Maine, officials now have to figure out how to situate new projects in prime spots on the grid.

After Maine voters reject transmission line to Massachusetts, a lawsuit is filed and uncertainty reigns

By Sabrina Shankman   11/03/21  
The day after Maine voters passed a referendum to reject a transmission line that would bring hydroelectric power from Canada to Massachusetts, one of the companies behind the project sued to overturn the vote. The…

Challenges facing Maine lobster industry are no joke

09/27/21  
Saturday was national lobster day. A day to celebrate the tasty crustacean from … New Hampshire?

Stepping forward: Young Mainers leading on issues from climate to criminal justice

By Evan Popp   09/27/21  
Maine may be the oldest state in the country. But a burgeoning movement of progressive youth making their voices heard on issues ranging from climate change to criminal justice reform — combined with a growing…

Mainers want action on climate change. The Build Back Better Act will deliver it.

09/27/21  
Rep. Genevieve McDonald, a lobster boat captain, represents District 134 in the Maine House of Representatives. She is the House chair of the Legislature’s Government Oversight Committee and a member of the Marine Resources Committee.

Puffin chick survival rate plummets on Maine’s coastal islands

By Ethan Genter   09/27/21  
This past year was a particularly bad one for the young Atlantic puffins that nest on Maine’s coastal islands.

What You Need To Know Before You Cast Your Vote On CMP Corridor Referendum

By Caitlin Andrews   09/27/21  
It has been two years since opponents of Central Maine Power’s electric hydropower project first launched an attempt to bring it down at the ballot box. A failed question and millions of dollars in spending later, Maine…

How prepared are Maine’s electric utilities for climate disruptions?

By Marina Schauffler   09/25/21  
In the wake of Ida, a hurricane intensified by the warming climate, more than a million electric consumers in Louisiana and hundreds of thousands more households across the eastern U.S. lost power.

Code Red for the Climate Demands New Behavior by CMP

By Jack Shapiro   09/21/21  
On the same day that the Portland Press Herald reported about an alarming new climate study that has been called “code red for humanity,” it also carried a front-page story about Central Maine Power’s (CMP)…

Maine Is a Trailblazer in Holding Companies Accountable for Recycling Packaging Waste

By David M. Kuchta   09/20/21  
This summer, Maine became the first state in the U.S. to enact an Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) for Packaging law, which requires companies that produce packaging waste to help pay for the costs of its…

UMaine to join Bangor and Orono in fighting climate change

By Alex Haskell   09/20/21  
The University of Maine is partnering with Bangor and Orono to address their impact on the local climate.

ICYMI: Secretary Granholm Visited Maine and New Hampshire to Tour Renewable Energy Infrastructure

09/13/21  
 On Friday, U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm traveled to Maine and New Hampshire to join U.S. Senator Angus King, U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan, and U.S. Representative Chris Pappas to tour renewable energy facilities…

Conservation groups file lawsuit against owner of central Maine dams, citing violation of Endangered Species Act

By Amy Calder   09/10/21  
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court by the Atlantic Salmon Federation and other conservation groups, alleges Brookfield Renewable Partners are harming and killing endangered Atlantic salmon and other sea-run fish at four dams on…

Maine climate and public health advocates say it’s time to address climate change

By Bob Evans   09/09/21  
Maine State Representative Genevieve McDonald says a proposed bill includes some of the most important climate policies proposed in Congress in years.

Hydropower plan in jeopardy amid court challenge

By Christian M . Wade   09/07/21  
A plan to bring Canadian hydropower to Massachusetts to help meet the state's renewable energy needs is in jeopardy following a Maine court ruling that questioned the legality of a planned transmission corridor through the…

What part of the US is safest from climate change?

By Camille Squires   09/04/21  
The storms, floods, heat, and fires that have ravaged the US in 2021 have made the ongoing climate crisis feel especially acute for citizens across the country. And the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change…

How Congress Can Support Maine’s Climate Action Plan

By Jack Shapiro and Emmie Theberge   08/31/21  
Maine’s Congressional delegation has before them the chance to build and pass the most important piece of climate legislation ever seen in the United States. This opportunity comes at a time when the latest report…

The Easy Climate-Change Win that Rashida Tlaib Backs But Joe Biden Fails to Seize

By Julia Rock   08/02/21  
The Biden administration has signaled its commitment to tackling the financial risks posed by climate change through executive orders and key appointments. But advocates say the president is missing an easy opportunity for big climate…

Maine Will Make Companies Pay for Recycling. Here’s How It Works.

By Winston Choi-Schagrin   07/21/21  
Recycling, that feel-good moment when people put their paper and plastic in special bins, was a headache for municipal governments even in good times. And, only a small amount was actually getting recycled.

Maine Will Make Companies Pay for Recycling. Here’s How It Works.

By Winston Choi-Schagrin   07/21/21  
The law aims to take the cost burden of recycling away from taxpayers. One environmental advocate said the change could be “transformative.”

Worcester County raised scientist Jill Pelto uses art to shed light on climate change

By Nicole Nelson   07/18/21  
“When you first meet Jill, you don’t see all of her,” says Lynne Pelto, the stepmother of climate change artist Jill Pelto. “You really need to spend some time with her to get to know…

In landmark move, Maine becomes first state to pass legislation to divest from fossil fuels

By Evan Popp   06/19/21  
In what environmental advocates called an important step forward for climate justice, Maine became the first state to commit through legislation to divest from fossil fuel companies after Gov. Janet Mills signed a bill this…

Maine Becomes First State to Order Public Fossil-Fuel Divestment

By Robert Tuttle   06/18/21  
Maine became the first U.S. state to enact a law requiring divestment from fossil fuels, after Governor Janet Mills signed a measure ordering public funds to jettison investments in coal, petroleum, natural gas and related…

Maine Senate approves bill to create Pine Tree Power Company

By Alyssa Thurlow   06/17/21  
The Maine senate approved a bill Wednesday that would replace Central Maine Power and Versant. It would ultimately allow Mainers to decide if they want to create the new nonprofit utility, the Pine Tree Power…

Maine utility regulators can’t consider climate in their decisions

By David Thill   06/16/21  
Maine utility regulators will be able to consider the state’s long-term climate goals in their decision-making under a proposal headed to the governor’s desk. The legislation represents a major expansion in the Maine Public Utilities…

House advances Cuddy bill to build strong, diverse clean energy workforce

06/16/21  
The Maine House of Representatives gave initial approval Wednesday to a measure sponsored by Representative Scott Cuddy, D-Winterport, that would ensure that future renewable energy projects in Maine capitalize on the opportunity to provide high…

Maine tries to shift some costs of recycling onto companies instead of taxpayers

By Frances Stead Sellers   06/14/21  
 At the height of tourist season, the recycling bins in this coastal town used to swell with glass and plastic, office paper and piles of cardboard from the local boatyard.