Despite Maine being the northeastern-most state in the nation with limited sunlight, the state has long had a commitment to sustainable energy. This is partly because the state gets a fair share of its energy from hydroelectric dams and uses wood and waste from its vast forest industry to generate electricity. According to DOE’s Energy Information Administration (EIA), “Maine generates a larger share of its electricity from nonhydroelectric renewable resources than any other state.”
According to EIA data, the state produces roughly a quarter of power used in the state from renewable resources, 20 percent from hydroelectric and 40 percent of its electricity from natural gas generation. To help its residents and businesses adopt more renewable energy like solar, wind and tidal power, the state is offering a fair share of incentives to residents and businesses.
Given its northern location, the amount of sunlight that hits Maine is less than the sunlight that hits states like Arizona and New Mexico, but the state still gets enough sunlight to justify photovoltaic (PV) systems. In fact, the state gets an average of 4.0 to 4.5 kilowatts per hour (kWh) of sunlight per square meter—about the same amount that Pennsylvania gets.
Under a law passed in 1999, the state has a renewable portfolio standard that requires utilities in Maine to generate 40 percent of their electric generation from renewable sources. However, between the wood biomass and hydroelectric power already in operation, the state met its goal, basically by the time the legislation passed. In 2007, it passed a law requiring 10 percent of all new electric generation by 2017 to come from renewable sources. The state also plans to build on its vast offshore wind resources. By 2030, the state plans to have roughly 8,000 megawatts of wind installed, with 5,000 MWs in its coastal waters or offshore.
In the summertime, tens of thousands swarm to Maine, nicknamed “The Vacation State,” to enjoy its cool, coastal weather, jagged coastline, and the lighthouses that protect ships from the granite coast—and among other things, its famous lobsters. But during the winter, Maine’s days are short, and temperatures are frigid.
For instance, the average high temperature in northern Maine during January is 19 degrees Fahrenheit, the average low is 0 degrees Fahrenheit. To combat this deep winter chill, roughly three-quarters of Maine’s homes use fuel oil to heat their homes, the highest share in the nation, EIA said. In addition to the rebates for photovoltaics and net metering programs, the state also is offering incentives for energy-efficiency projects that include properly insulating homes.