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Frequently Asked Questions
The Maine Green Power Program
What is renewable energy and why is it important?
Renewable energy is energy from sources that replenish themselves without depleting the Earth’s resources.
Compared to traditional energy sources, renewable energy offers benefits including:
What kind of renewable energy am I supporting through Maine Green Power?
Only renewable energy generated in Maine will be used to supply Maine Green Power. Moreover, the program will seek to secure approximately 25 percent of its green power from Maine Class I renewable energy projects that have been placed into service or refurbished on or after September 1, 2005 or locally-owned community based renewable energy projects.
Green power projects that are eligible to supply renewable energy to Maine Green Power include:
Maine Green Power will issue an annual report, reviewed by the Maine Public Utilities Commission, that details the sources of the energy used over the course of each year
How does Maine Green Power work?
When you enroll in Maine Green Power, the program will purchase certificates (see below) from renewable energy facilities in Maine on your behalf. This guarantees that electricity from facilities like wind, solar, and biomass is delivered to the regional power system. Electricity from renewable energy facilities replaces and reduces the need for electricity generated from non-renewable sources like fossil fuels, creating measurable environmental benefits.
How does Maine Green Power actually purchase renewable energy?
When you sign up for Maine Green Power, renewable energy is purchased to match your participation level in the form of renewable energy certificates (RECs). RECs are one way the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommend procuring renewable energy. To learn more about RECs, see the questions below or visit the EPA's website.
Doesn't the State require renewable energy generation already?
All purchases through Maine Green Power are voluntary and represent the generation of green power above and beyond the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), which sets a statewide minimum level of renewable energy use. For that reason, none of the renewable energy purchased by Maine Green Power participants can be used by Maine's electricity providers to fulfill their RPS requirements. Maine Green Power enables electricity customers to go beyond the RPS and “green” their own electricity use.
Will my purchase really make a difference?
Yes. Your purchase builds demand for Maine-based renewable energy, encouraging new renewable energy supply that helps support jobs and makes sustainable and productive use of our state’s resources. Maine Green Power is sourced from emissions-free and low-emissions electricity generators in Maine such as hydro, solar, and biomass1. We will optimize the percentage of Maine Green Power that meets the Maine Class I definition, which includes wind, solar, and biomass from a “new” [i.e. post September 1, 2005] facilities. Maine Green Power will reduce carbon emissions under the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative by retiring the Voluntary Renewable Energy (VRE) “set aside” of carbon allowances for every qualifying Maine Class I REC that is purchased for program supply. Each megawatt-hour that qualified for the VRE set-aside for 2012 avoided 907 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions.
We will issue an annual report detailing the mix of renewable resources each year and describing the positive environmental impact you've made thanks to your participation.
1 When a biomass facility combusts plant matter (biomass), carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere. However, in order to grow, trees and other plants remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through photosynthesis. This release/reduce cycle is considered net carbon neutral by the U.S. Department of Energy. View a detailed overview.
Who is eligible to participate in Maine Green Power?
If you pay an electric bill to Central Maine Power, Bangor Hydro, or Maine Public Service for your home or business, you are eligible to participate in Maine Green Power.
Why should my business purchase Maine Green Power?
Choosing renewable energy offers a number of benefits to your business. Choosing Maine Green Power will help your business:
Maine Green Power will assist participating businesses in highlighting their green power commitment to employees and customers.
Can I reduce my monthly energy bill and still participate in the program?
An easy way of reducing costs is to reduce the amount of energy you use. For example, if you install compact fluorescent light bulbs in place of conventional bulbs, you would reduce the amount of electricity you use, thus reducing your bill. In fact, if you conserve enough energy at the same time you buy green power, your overall electric bill might not increase at all. You would benefit and so would the environment! For more information please visit Efficiency Maine.
How do I know that I’m getting what I pay for?
The Maine Public Utilities Commission will provide oversight to ensure that only eligible Maine renewable energy resources are used to generate energy for Maine Green Power. In addition, Maine Green Power will issue annual reports that outline the mix of renewable resources your household or business purchased through Maine Green Power.
Who manages Maine Green Power?
Maine Green Power is a program of the Maine Public Utilities Commission. 3Degrees Group Inc., a national leader in green power program services, was selected by the Commission via a competitive proposal process to help manage and grow the program.
Can I sign up if I live in an apartment?
If you pay your electricity bill, you have the decision-making authority to enroll in Maine Green Power.
Am I required to participate?
Participation in Maine Green Power is strictly voluntary.
Can I cancel whenever I want?
Absolutely. There is no commitment. Simply call (855) 234-0188 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to cancel
How do I sign up?
You can enroll your home or business on the Enrollment form at www.maine.gov/mpuc/greenpower/
Costs of the Program
What does it cost to participate in Maine Green Power?
Maine Green Power costs $0.015 or 1.5 cents extra per kilowatt-hour. Residents and businesses can tailor the amount of renewable energy purchased in the form of 500 kilowatt hour "blocks." (The average Maine home uses 521 kilowatt hours a month, and you can refer to your own electricity bill to see how much you use.)
The cost for each block is $7.50 per month, and residential customers can participate in Maine Green Power at the half block rate of $3.75 a month.
Prices for commercial customers start at $7.50 per 500 kilowatt-hour block, and can be customized to meet business needs and usage levels.
Why does renewable energy cost more than basic electrical service?
While the cost of renewable energy has been declining for many years, renewable energy is generally still more expensive than traditional electric sources. Renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, and hydro power have no fuel costs, but are capital-intensive projects with considerable up-front costs as well as ongoing maintenance. Maine Green Power costs a premium because customers are supporting the addition of more renewable energy above and beyond what their supplier is already purchasing on their behalf.
Is my purchase tax deductible?
No, the government does not provide a tax deduction for voluntary green power programs, since it is not a donation. The cost of the program goes toward purchasing a product: Renewable energy certificates.
Do the utility companies or the State of Maine make a profit on Maine Green Power?
No. The State of Maine, Central Maine Power, Bangor Hydro, and Maine Public Service do not make a profit from Maine Green Power.
Quick Facts About Renewable Energy
What is a kilowatt-hour (kWh)?
The kilowatt-hour (kWh) is a billing unit for energy delivered to consumers by electric utilities. In technical terms, a kilowatt-hour is a unit of energy equal to 1000 watt hours. The average home in Maine uses 521 kWh a month. Maine Green Power offers renewable energy in 500 kilowatt-hour blocks in order to approximate the average households energy use and give residents the ability to scale up their impact.
What is a Renewable Energy Certificate (REC)?
Renewable energy certificates (RECs) are proof that 1,000 kilowatt-hours of renewable energy have been generated and delivered to the regional power pool. RECs represent the environmental, or green, attributes of the power produced by renewable energy projects. RECs are sold separately from the electricity and are one way the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommend procuring renewable energy.
For every unit (in New England, measured in 1,000 kilowatt-hour blocks) of renewable energy generated and delivered to the regional power pool, an equivalent amount of RECs are created. As such, RECs provide a tracking mechanism to insure that no two customers pay for the same unit of renewable energy generation. The more RECs that are sold, the more demand is created for renewable energy. As renewable energy facilities sell their RECs, demand shifts to bring more renewable energy sources on-line. New renewable energy sources are being constructed in Maine to meet the demand created for renewable energy.
When you sign up for Maine Green Power, 3Degrees contracts for RECs to match your purchase level. Your purchase of RECs benefits the environment by encouraging greater renewable energy generation and displacing non-renewable generation from the electricity system. To learn more about RECs, please visit the EPA website.
Will renewable energy resources be delivered directly to my home or business?
The electricity generated from the renewable resources that you support through Maine Green Power is put into the regional power-supply grid along with electricity from Maine's other energy resources. While it is not possible to differentiate the various electricity sources at the point of delivery (a.k.a. your home or business), by choosing Maine Green Power, you are helping to increase the proportion of renewable energy that is available to the entire system.
Will the power to my home be dependent upon the wind blowing or the availability of biomass material?
No. Your power will continue to be uninterrupted because you are connected to the regional electricity system. The power that travels through the network of lines and wires that bring electricity to your home or business comes from a variety of generating sources.
How are environmental equivalencies calculated?
The environmental equivalencies (such as trees planted, miles driven, etc) for Maine Green Power are calculated using methodologies developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). You can learn more by visiting the Calculations and References page on their website.
Where can I get more information about renewable energy?
To learn more about renewable energy, visit the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).
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