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July 17, 2017

Maine large-scale manufacturers eligible for energy rebates

Energy-intensive manufacturers in Maine, as defined by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, will receive a total of $2.5 million in rebates this year through the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

RGGI, a cooperative effort of Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Delaware, New York and Maryland, is the first mandatory market-based program in the United States to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. States sell nearly all emission allowances through auctions and invest proceeds in energy efficiency, renewable energy, and other consumer benefit programs, according to RGGI's website.

The Bangor Daily News reported this is the second year of a law that reduces the premium that energy-intensive manufacturers pay related to the RGGI's cap-and-trade system. Applicants must be connected to the regional New England grid: Companies in parts of Washington and Aroostook counties managed by the Northern Maine Independent System Administrator don't qualify.

According to the National Resources Council of Maine, RGGI is a cooperative market-based effort among nine states to reduce climate-changing carbon pollution from power plants and spur investments in energy efficiency and clean energy.

Maine joined RGGI in 2007, when the Legislature voted nearly unanimously to participate. The program took effect in 2009. The Efficiency Maine Trust determines how the revenue generated from the sale of credits can be best used for energy efficiency programs and carbon savings.

According to the BDN, the rebate program will disburse the $2.5 million from the Efficiency Maine Trust to qualifying energy-intensive manufacturers for 2017-18. Applications are available on the PUC's website here and are due on or before Aug. 10.

In its first year, the PUC distributed $3 million to 16 energy-intensive manufacturings, with disbursements ranging from $7,500 to $365,000.

Now the nine states are debating whether the carbon cap should be lowered, Maine Public reported. In 2012, the states agreed that CO2 emissions should be reduced by 2.5% per year, through 2020. After that, the goal might be in a range of a 2.5% to 3.5% annual reduction.

"We're looking, certainly leaning toward the lower end of that and I think people need to recognize that Maine has one of the lowest carbon dioxide emissions rates for our generating assets in the country," Marc Cone, director of Maine's Bureau of Air Quality, told the station.

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