While testifying Jan. 28 on behalf of  LD 1717 in the Hall of Flags at the State House, Senate President Elizabeth “Libby” Mitchell referenced President Obama’s State of the Union speech the previous night.

“The president said this country must lead the world in renewable energy,” said Mitchell. “Maine got that memo before last night.”

A number of representatives and business owners joined Mitchell at the Hall of Flags press conference in support LD 1717: An Act to Increase the Affordability of Clean Energy for Homeowners and Businesses.

The bill would allow municipalities to establish financing programs to help homeowners and business owners fund improvements to make their properties more energy efficient or pay for the installation of “green” energy systems, such as solar panels and wind turbines, that would generate energy by using renewable resources.

“Maine should be leading the country when it comes to renewable energy,” said Speaker of the House Hannah Pingree.

Rep. Seth Berry, D-Bowdoinham, said Japan uses half the energy per person that America does, and most of that dramatic difference is due to more efficient use of energy.

“Efficiency is cheaper, too,” Berry said, adding Maine has the 10th most energy efficient economy. The goal of those on hand Jan. 28 was to make Maine the leader in that category.

Rep. Patsy Crockett, D-Augusta, described how the bill would establish “PACE,” or Property Assessed Clean Energy, a program to finance residential weatherization as well as commercial and industrial energy efficiency, weatherization and green generation projects.

“Adopting a PACE bill promptly should, so I’m told, increase the state’s chances of getting a $75 million federal weatherization/energy efficiency grant,” said Crockett. “It shouldn’t mean reinventing the wheel; many states have already adopted PACE programs and can serve as models.”

More information about LD 1717 can be found at http://www.mainelegislature.org/legis/bills/bills_124th/billtexts/HP121801.asp