House advances Cuddy bill to build strong, diverse clean energy workforce

Wed, 06/16/2021 - 10:30pm

    AUGUSTA — The Maine House of Representatives gave initial approval Wednesday to a measure sponsored by Representative Scott Cuddy, D-Winterport, that would ensure that future renewable energy projects in Maine capitalize on the opportunity to provide high quality jobs in Maine.

    As amended, LD 1231 requires renewable energy projects that receive at least $50,000 in state assistance to establish protections for the many Maine craftsmen and women working on the projects.

    The bill requires specified renewable energy projects to meet labor standards such as prevailing wage and access to workforce development opportunities.

    The Maine Climate Council has established several goals for taking action to address the climate crisis. Some of these goals are directed at Maine’s energy infrastructure, including a proposal to transition to 80% renewable energy by 2030 and 100% renewable energy by 2050.

    “We’re building a lot of renewable energy projects in Maine right now, and more are in the planning stages,” said Cuddy. “While we do that, it’s critical that we establish standards to support a truly inclusive workforce and take care of the men and women doing the work.”

    The bill further seeks to preempt environmental justice issues by requiring that the work performed on such projects benefit disadvantaged communities and encouraging the hiring of individuals who are typically underrepresented on construction sites.

    In an effort to strengthen Maine’s workforce, LD 1231 requires renewable energy contractors to utilize registered apprenticeship programs.

    The bill additionally stipulates any entity that signs a project labor agreement will receive beneficial consideration during the Maine Public Utility Commission’s procurement process.

    “We’ve all heard the promises that we can both solve the dilemma of global climate change and build a better economy at the same time,” said Cuddy. “My bill makes that a reality by establishing a thoughtful framework that will propel Maine into a clean and just future.”

    The measure faces further votes in the House and Senate.

    Cuddy, a member of the Labor and Housing Committee and the Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee, is serving his second term in the Maine House. He represents the communities of Frankfort, Searsport, Swanville and Winterport