AUGUSTA – Gov. Janet Mills has signed an executive order effectively ending a moratorium on wind turbine permits that was in place under her predecessor, Gov. Paul LePage.

The order by Mills, a Democrat, clarifies that state agencies with the legal authority to issue permits can again work with Maine’s local communities and stakeholders to determine which projects should go forward.

LePage, a Republican and longtime critic of wind energy, issued an executive order in January of 2018 prohibiting state agencies from issuing permits “related to wind turbines” in western and coastal Maine, on coastal islands and along “significant avian migratory pathways.”

LePage also set up a secretive committee on wind energy that eventually dissolved after issuing a report essentially saying the topic needed more study.

Dylan Voorhees, the climate and clean energy director for the Natural Resources Council of Maine, an environmental advocacy group, said Mills’ action would “reverse the barriers” set up by LePage.

Voorhees said action on solar energy reforms, rejected by LePage, was also in the works. “Passage of the bill to repeal the anti-solar gross metering tax, which was just voted out of legislative committee this week, would be another positive step forward in regaining our energy independence by moving forward with home-grown clean energy projects,” Voorhees said in a statement issued by NRCM Friday.

Mills, who has vowed to act to bolster Maine’s renewable energy sector, said her order was meant to sent a positive signal to would-be investors.

“This Executive Order will allow our state to conduct a transparent vetting of all wind projects, onshore and offshore, to ensure they respect Maine communities and our environment while helping to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels,” Mills said in a prepared statement. “Today, we another take a step towards embracing a clean energy future for Maine.”

Scott Thistle can be contacted at 791-6330 or at:

[email protected]

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