Renewable Energy Technology Incentives in Maine
Maine is one of the major US success stories when it comes renewable technology as it currently gets over half of its electricity from these sources. 25% of this is supplied by the state’s strong hydroelectric infrastructure, with wood burning biomass not far behind. Maryland gets 8% of electricity from wind power and has a number of incentives in place to encourage the uptake of green technology for both commercial and domestic purposes, including solar PV.
Maine has used almost all of its hydroelectric capacity and has a number of dams in operation as well as small scale micro hydro projects. A recent study showed that there was only enough potential to add some 56 MW on top of the 750 already being produced. That means the state needs to look towards other means of green energy production to meet its renewable energy portfolio standard.
The largest wind farm in Maine is Oakfield which produces a capacity of 148 MW and the total for the state is some 600 MW. There are plans for a large expansion with a bold target of 3,000 MW installed by 2020. This will come from a combination of onshore and offshore projects and there is almost unanimous support for expansion across the state.
The state has been less progressive on solar power, though recent research estimated that solar rooftop arrays, if taken up across the state, could provide as much as 24% of Maine’s electricity needs.
Solar PV Incentives in Maine
Despite not being a major player in the solar market, there is the chance of a good return on investment for roof top solar. There is the Federal Tax Rebate to take advantage of and the possibility of funding through the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Resource Fund for what are called demonstration installations as well as other low cost loan schemes. Other low cost loans and grants are available for a wide range of renewable technologies including solar PV.
Solar PV Case Study in Maine
Maine is a cash purchase state with no provision to lease solar panels but despite this the figures show a decent ROI for installations. A 5 kW array should cost around $20,000 and comes with the 30% Federal Tax Rebate. With energy savings from year one, you should expect to have paid off the initial investment by the 13th year and achieve a profit of nearly $22,500 after 25 years. That doesn’t take into account the expected rise in property value of around $18,000.
Solar Thermal Incentives in Maine
Solar thermal water heating systems have the same incentives as solar PV and a good system could provide up to 70% of the heating for an average sized home. Many homeowners and businesses see solar thermal as a cheaper way to access renewable energy and cut down their overall bills.
Small Hydro Incentives in Maine
Hydro is a major component of energy production in the state of Maine and there are a number of small scale projects that serve a local need. The emphasis is more on commercial ventures though and there are no incentives apart from the Federal Tax Credit. With most of the large capacity already accessed, more focus is being put on other renewable technologies.
Geothermal Incentives in Maine
As with many other states, there is plenty of support for geothermal technologies such as ground source heat pumps in Maine. Low cost loans through PACE financing are available for installing a wide range of renewable technologies, including ground source heat pumps. For commercial premises there is the Efficiency Maine Business Program and all installations benefit from the Federal Tax Rebate.
Biomass Incentives in Maine
Biomass is bigger in Maine than in many other states and a number of their incentives include wood chip burners and the like as acceptable technology. With nearly 86% of land in the state classified as timberland, the legislators have recognized the potential for obtaining energy from this source. Currently a number of projects are underway though two biomass plants have had to come off line recently because of the fall in price of electricity. Home wood burners and biomass boilers for commercial purposes are gaining popularity across the state and have incentives such as the Efficiency Maine Residential Home Energy Savings Program providing help up to $2,000.
Wind Power Incentives in Maine
Wind has great potential in Maine, both onshore and along the coast and there are plans to substantially increase capacity for the state over the next five years. State legislature has been relaxed in recent years to allow small and large scale installations and with the Federal Tax Rebate and a number of low cost loans and grants in place, wind turbines for areas such as agricultural land and smaller communities are more viable than ever.
Overall, Maine’s renewable energy portfolio is pretty good and along with its other green initiatives this makes it one of the best performing eco-friendly states in the US. With most of the capacity for hydro used up now, dependence will no doubt grow on the installation of onshore and offshore wind farms for which there is unanimous public support. The solar industry too could begin to take off in the next few years.
You can find out about all the renewable technology incentives available in Maine on the DSIRE website.