Washington County Energy Planning
Policy Options for Municipal/County Refinement & Adoption
Both the Washington County Energy Initiative, completed in 2012, and the Down East Maine Renewable Energy Working Group provided a variety of policy options for use by Washington County and individual municipalities.
Several policy alternatives are provided below for County and/or Municipal adoption. The assertiveness of the language can be modified depending on the urgency with which each jurisdiction chooses to pursue an alternative energy strategy. Different alternatives may be more or less appropriate given the location of the municipality and the type of energy facility being supported. Washington County municipalities can download a Washington County Regional Coordination Policies Template in MSWORD format to modify these options to their choices and circumstances.
The Policy alternatives are organized first by Goals and followed by suggested Implementing Programs:
Goal: Low-Vehicle-Use Employment Opportunities.
Facilitate employment opportunities that minimize the need for automobile trips, such as live/work, telecommuting, satellite work centers, and home occupations, in addition to mixed-use development strategies.
- Promote Human-Scale Businesses. Allow and encourage creation of studios and workspaces for artists, craftspeople, and other professionals, and encourage low-impact self-employment and home occupations, where they will be compatible with existing neighborhood character.
- Support Telecommuting and Satellite Work Centers. Encourage businesses and public agencies to offer telecommuting as a work alternative, and allow corporate satellite work centers near housing concentrations to enable residents who are employees of out-of-county businesses to reduce their commutes.
Goal: Decreased Energy Use.
Reduce total and per-capita nonrenewable energy waste and peak electricity demand through energy efficiency and conservation.
- Adopt Energy Efficiency Standards. Integrate energy efficiency and conservation requirements that exceed State standards into the development review and building permit process.
- Offer Effective Incentives. Offer incentives such as expedited permit processing, reduced fees, and technical assistance to encourage energy efficiency technology and practices.
- Provide Public Information and Education. Provide information, marketing, training, and education to support energy efficiency and energy conservation.
- Reduce Energy Use in County Facilities. Integrate energy efficiency and conservation into all County/Municipal functions.
- Offer Information, Technical Assistance, Training, and Incentives. Expand energy efficiency information, marketing, training, and technical assistance to property owners, development professionals, schools, and special districts. Review and revise, as needed, existing incentives for incorporating energy reducing practices in remodels and new development, including fee reductions and expedited processing.
- Explore Regional Collaboration, Financing, and Other Incentives. Explore regional and countywide collaborations among local governments, special districts, and other public organizations to share resources, achieve economies of scale, and develop plans and programs that are optimized on a regional scale. Evaluate and implement opportunities for supporting new programs and promoting sustainable energy practices through financing mechanisms (e.g., pooled project financing, low-interest loans, other local government joint ventures, and State funds earmarked for energy efficiency and renewables).
- Support Key Legislation. Monitor and support State and federal legislation that promotes energy efficiency and renewable energy sources.
- Support Low Income Weatherization. Review and ensure that adequate low-income weatherization programs are being implemented in Washington County, and all available State and federal funds and programs are being used to the fullest extent possible. Provide information, training, and technical assistance to owners and tenants who may have incentives for implementing energy efficiency in low-income rental properties.
- Reduce Energy Use in Processing Operations. Work with local commercial, industrial, and agricultural operations to identify opportunities for energy efficiency in the storage, transport, refrigeration, and other processing of commodities
Goal: Increased Renewable Resource Use.
Utilize local renewable energy resources, and shift imported energy to renewable resources.
- Protect Local Renewable Resources. Preserve opportunities for development of renewable energy resources.
Adopt Renewable Energy Building Standards. Integrate technically and financially feasible renewable energy requirements into development and building standards.
- Promote Renewable Energy. Facilitate renewable technologies through streamlined planning and development rules, codes, processing, and other incentives.
- Provide Public Information and Education. Provide information, marketing, training, and education to support renewable resource use.
- Map Local Renewable Energy Resources, Utility Systems, and Demand Areas. Use Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to map and assess local renewable resources, the electric and gas transmission and distribution system, community growth areas anticipated to require new energy services, and other data useful to deployment of renewable technologies.
- Protect Renewable Resources. Identify possible sites for production of energy using local renewable resources such as solar, wind, small hydro, biogas, and tidal; evaluate potential land use, environmental, economic, and other constraints affecting their development; and adopt measures to protect those resources, such as utility easement, right-of-way, and land set-asides.
- Protect Solar Access. Require the protection of passive or active solar design elements and systems from shading by neighboring structures and trees.
- Facilitate Renewable Energy Technologies and Design. Identify and remove regulatory or procedural barriers to producing renewable energy in building and development codes, design guidelines, and zoning ordinances. Work with related agencies such as fire, water, and health that may impact the use of alternative technologies. Develop protocols for alternative energy storage such as biodiesel, hydrogen, and/or compressed air.
- Provide Incentives for Alternative Energy Production. Provide incentives such as fee reductions and expedited processing for facilities that use renewable sources for energy production. Work with State and federal agencies to secure tax exemptions, tax rebates, or other financial incentives for such facilities.
- Use Renewable Energy in County/Municipal Facilities. Develop and employ renewable energy and clean generation technologies such as solar, wind, biogas, tidal, cogeneration, and fuel cells to power County/Municipal facilities using tax-free low-interest loans and other available financial options. Evaluate the feasibility of purchasing renewable energy certificates to reduce Washington County government’s contribution to greenhouse gas emissions.
- Provide Information and Technical Assistance. Offer technical assistance for renewable energy and clean distributed generation to businesses and homeowners.
- Explore Renewable Energy Financing Options. Evaluate and implement as feasible local government financing options such as low-interest loans, pooled project financing, and joint ventures with other agencies with financing authority, such as the water districts. A model PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) ordinance in MSWORD format for municipal refinement can be downloaded here.
- Explore Regional Collaboration. Explore regional collaborations among local governments, special districts, nonprofits, and other public organizations to share resources, achieve economies of scale, and develop renewable energy policies and programs that are optimized on a regional scale.