New Report from The Nature Conservancy and Coastal Enterprises, Inc. Recommends Strategies to Make Renewable Energy More Available, Accessible and Affordable Across the Region
Brunswick, Maine– According to a report released today by The Nature Conservancy and Coastal Enterprises Inc. (CEI), Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont can make the transition to a clean energy economy through a mix of market-based policies, innovative public-private partnerships and new investments. These strategies can spark a clean energy future that will catalyze job creation, expand access to clean technologies and reduce carbon pollution.
According to the report, transitioning to a clean energy future will keep more of the region’s energy dollars local and attract new investment from outside the three states. Northern New England spends $8.2 billion every year on imported fossil fuels that could be redirected toward local clean energy solutions to eventually meet 80% of the region’s energy needs with renewable heating and electricity, energy efficiency, and electric vehicle transportation. The timing is right, as customer demand for these shifts is greater now than ever before.
“Maine is ready to invest in clean energy,” said Rob Wood, energy policy and projects advisor at The Nature Conservancy in Maine. “The opportunity for our state is enormous. This report shows that good policies and innovative finance tools can bring new investment, new jobs and cleaner air to our communities.”
“It is exciting to have a solid understanding of the scope and scale of the investment needed to help northern New England build a clean energy economy that creates jobs, reduces greenhouse emissions and benefits people and communities with low incomes,” said CEI President Keith Bisson. “This report identifies some of the gaps in financial products as well as public policies to help guide our work to have most impact. I’m also very excited about CEI’s partnership with the three northern New England chapters of The Nature Conservancy on this project. Together we can have a real impact.”
The transition to cleaner and more efficient energy use will rely largely on private investment, which can be supported by a combination of market-based public policies and innovative finance tools outlined in the report. Public investment can also play a key role in bridging the gap between capital market perceptions of risk and actual risk, for example through loan loss reserve funds or other credit enhancements.
The report makes a total of eleven recommendations to increase private investment in clean energy. Stakeholder interviews identified key barriers such as a lack of financing options for businesses and low- to moderate-income customers. TNC and CEI are working this legislative session in Maine to advance one of the report’s recommendations: commercial property assessed clean energy (C-PACE). C-PACE is an innovative financing strategy that leverages private lender capital to make clean energy and energy efficiency upgrades in commercial buildings with no out-of-pocket expenses for the property owner.
TNC and CEI are also collaborating to attract private investment capital to finance municipal solar arrays in Maine. Waldoboro and Tremont were the first communities to complete projects with financing from TNC and CEI. The partnership is helping to reduce the cost of installation, making renewable energy accessible and affordable for communities, which will also benefit from significant energy cost savings over time. The report recommends the expansion of new financing opportunities for municipalities to ensure all Mainers benefit from the transition to a clean energy future.
TNC and CEI commissioned Vermont Energy Investment Corporation (VEIC) to research and identify the opportunities and challenges to clean energy investment, the results of which can be found in the “Advancing Clean Energy Investment in Northern New England” report.
TNC and CEI are hosting a tri-state stakeholder forum to discuss the report findings on February 25th in Concord, New Hampshire, at the TNC office. Government officials, state legislators, clean energy advocates, and business leaders, are invited to attend to help chart a path forward to a clean energy future for the northern New England region.
The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world’s toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 72 countries, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.
Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI) helps to grow good jobs, environmentally sustainable enterprises and shared prosperity in Maine and other rural regions by integrating financing, business and industry expertise, and policy solutions. As a mission-driven investor, CEI works closely with individuals and businesses to address operational, workforce and environmental challenges, focusing particularly on key natural resource-based industries that can contribute to an inclusive and environmentally sustainable economy. Visit www.ceimaine.org for more information.