AUGUSTA — The Maine House of Representatives gave initial approval Tuesday to a bill from Representative Stanley Paige Zeigler, D-Montville, that would create the Maine Clean Energy and Sustainability Accelerator, commonly referred to as a “green bank,” and the Maine Senate voted in favor of the measure Wednesday.
LD 1659 would leverage public and private funds to invest in projects that advance clean energy, energy efficiency and climate resiliency.
The bill specifies that 40% of all investments must be directed to serve low-income and other underserved communities. The bill further reduces barriers to energy efficiency for all Mainers by increasing access to low-interest loans.
“We know that energy efficiency projects and upgrades, like installing solar panels and heat pumps, end up paying for themselves, but those types of projects are often out of reach for the average Mainer,” said Zeigler. “Mainers shouldn’t have to choose between the short-term affordable choice and the environmentally responsible choice that will save them money for years to come. This measure alleviates that tension and puts our state on the path towards a cleaner and more efficient future.”
LD 1659 received support from a wide range of organizations during the bill’s public hearing, including the Professional Logging Contractors of Maine and the Maine Real Estate and Development Association. The measure is also supported by the Environmental Priorities Coalition, a group of 32 conservation, environmental and public health organizations in the state.
“The time to establish this is now,” said Zeigler. “There’s an effort underway at the federal level to create a national Clean Energy and Sustainability Accelerator, which would then distribute funds to state-level entities. By passing this legislation, Maine will be ready to accept those funds when they are made available.”
The bill faces further votes in the House and Senate.
Zeigler is serving his third term in the Maine House and represents the communities of Belmont, Liberty, Lincolnville, Montville, Morrill, Palermo and Searsmont. He serves on the Environment and Natural Resources Committee and the Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee.