Bill Proposes Increasing Transition of Maine’s State Vehicles to Alternative Energy

Bill Proposes Increasing Transition of Maine’s State Vehicles to Alternative Energy

A small fraction of Maine’s approximately 3,770 state-owned vehicles are powered by electricity and other alternative forms.

Newly introduced legislation touted as a lynchpin in Maine’s continued steps toward climate-friendly policy would change the data point in the immediate years ahead.

On March 31, state Sen. Ben Chipman, D-Portland, went before the Legislature’s Committee on State and Local Government and discussed Legislative Document 655, a bill he is sponsoring and is aimed at combating carbon emissions.

While Maine’s climate plan, enacted in 2021, notes a desire to transition vehicles used for state business to alternative sources, there are no current legislative mandates in place.

Chipman said his overarching goal in LD655 is to have more than a goal.

During the committee’s hour-long preliminary comb-through of the bill, several members raised questions about the logistics of carrying it out. Testimony for and against the legislation also was provided.

State Rep. Jeffrey Sean Adams, R-Lebanon, said he had concerns with the LD655 draft, which focused only on electric vehicles as an alternative energy source.

Adams posed several questions, including the impact the EV rollout would have on Maine’s electric grid and the impact of mining and recycling the batteries used to power the vehicles.

Adams noted emissions in producing the batteries, "just not in our neck off the woods, but overseas.”

Another common refrain about the transition is the cost, which was not discussed in detail within the confines of the March 31 committee meeting.

Chipman, however, said he was not concerned about any of the reservations raised, pointing to continuous innovation and local reliance on other energy sources---including wind and solar.

“The price is coming down over time,” Chipman said. “More people are buying. I think the technology is evolving.”

Josh Caldwell, climate and clean energy outreach coordinator with the Natural Resource Council of Maine, provided the committee with testimony in support of LD655.

The legislation, Caldwell said, would be an opportunity to lead by example and achieve some of the targets outlined in Maine’s climate plan.

“We are in the midst of a clean energy transition, where Maine is a leader,” Caldwell said.

But Leslie Anderson, president and CEO of the Propane Gas Association of New England, said the organization she represents could not back LD655 as it is written because of its narrow focus on electricity as an alternative energy source.

“We think that propane is a clean alternative energy and is an essential backup to the electric grid,” Anderson said. “There’s a great future for propane on the renewable front.”

The Committee on State and Local Government will hold a work session on LD655 to hash over cost and other granular details about the bill’s potential impact. That session has not been scheduled.

We thank The Center Square for reprint permission.

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