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April 27, 2017

Union of Concerned Scientists puts Maine in top 10 of clean energy states

Photo / Peter Van Allen
Photo / Peter Van Allen
Maine Beer Co.'s photo-voltaic solar power system at its brewery in Freeport.

The Union of Concerned Scientists has issued a new report that ranks Maine at seventh overall among the 50 states as a clean energy leader.

"Clean Energy Momentum: Ranking State Progress" assesses and ranks states according to 12 metrics, including renewable energy generation, capacity, and growth; energy savings; greenhouse gas emissions and power plant pollution reductions; and clean energy jobs. The top 10 states "leading the transition to a clean energy future" are, in descending order: California, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Hawaii, Oregon, Maine, Washington, New York, and Iowa.

Here's how Maine stands up compared to other states:

  • Fifth in "renewable energy generation," which assesses renewable electricity as a percentage of total in-state generation. Bioenergy accounts for 25% and wind 11% in Maine. Maine's renewable energy percentage of in-state generation in 2015 was 66.5%.
  • Second in "renewable energy generation increase" from 2011 to 2015, including more than doubling its contribution from wind energy.
  • Fifth in "new renewable energy capacity" being developed in each state; Maine is also fifth in "energy savings," measured as program savings as a portion of retail electricity sales in 2015.
  • Third for carbon dioxide emissions reductions, with a 32% reduction from 2011 to 2015.
  • Ninth in "wind jobs per 1,000 people."

Maine was not in the top 10 for other metrics, including residential solar power, electric vehicle adoption and future renewable electricity standard increases.

Nationally, the report cited these metrics as evidence that clean energy is making significant, rapid progress in the United States:

  • Wind farms in 41 states provide enough electricity to meet the needs of more than 20 million American households.
  • In 2016 alone, the nation added enough solar electric panels to meet the needs of two million households.
  • Investments in energy efficiency over the last quarter century have precluded the need for the equivalent of more than 300 additional large power plants.
  • Electrification of the transportation sector, while nascent, is rapidly picking up steam, with more than half a million plug-in electric vehicles now on US roads.

In a news release announcing the Union of Concerned Scientists' report, the Environmental & Energy Council of Maine, also known as E2Tech, stated that the report "adds to other analyses showing positive trends in Maine's clean energy momentum, such as the 2016 U.S. Clean Tech Leadership Index, a data-based comparison of all 50 states among 70 technology, capital, and policy indicators, which found that Maine improved its ranking from 22nd to 18th since 2015 and surged ahead 11 places since 2014.

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