Toolkit will help municipalities balance renewable energy development and natural resource conservation
Along with the tremendous opportunities offered by solar and wind power come potential conflicts with Maine’s wildlife and wildlife habitat. Maine Audubon is committed to finding a balance between the development of new renewable energies and the conservation of natural resources.
To help you, Maine Audubon’s ecology and policy experts have created a series of resources to guide developers, municipalities and policy makers towards realizing the benefits of renewable energy, while locating and operating projects in taking into account wildlife and habitat.
The Maine Audubon Renewable Sites Toolkit is available at maineaudubon.org/advocacy/renewable-energy/ and includes:
Our interactive renewable energy localization tool is a GIS map that groups together the layers of natural resources (many of which are not otherwise accessible to the public) and other siting constraints for onshore solar and wind projects, while indicating which areas are suitable for new development and which areas to avoid.
Model site plan regulations and conditional use permit to support solar energy development in Maine municipalities. Several municipalities in Maine have already used these templates to write their own ordinances.
Best practices for low impact solar layout, design and maintenance. This document explains how to avoid and minimize impacts on natural and agricultural resources.
Maine is in the midst of a new era of renewable energy development, spurred by legislation that requires 80% of Maine’s electricity to come from renewable resources by 2030 and 100% by 2050. These goals are among the most ambitious in the country and are necessary to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.
The solar industry has responded by proposing dozens of solar projects across the state, often at a faster rate than willing but uncertain municipalities are able to prepare for this type of development. Many cities in Maine are seeking advice to help them support renewable energy while protecting their natural and agricultural resources. Cities like Freeport and China have already passed ordinances based on the Maine Audubon model.
“Like any new land use or development, if not properly located or operated, new renewable energy development could displace wildlife habitat and otherwise unduly affect Maine’s natural resources,” said Sarah Haggerty, conservation biologist / GIS manager of Maine Audubon, who led the creation of the Renewable Energy Implementation Tool. “These materials can help cities support green energy and protect their environment.
“There is no time to waste,” said Eliza Donoghue, advocacy director for Maine Audubon. “Developing new renewable energies is essential to tackle climate change and also supports good jobs and lower energy costs. But we have to think about where we build these projects and how we manage them. “