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May 26, 2015

At New, Energy Efficient School in Cumberland, King Highlights Legislation Promoting Personal Energy Independence

Bill would create first-of-its-kind framework to support development of innovative technologies that will allow Americans greater energy independence

CUMBERLAND, ME – At the new campus of what will soon be one of the most energy efficient schools in the country, U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) today highlighted how his legislation – the Free Market Energy Act of 2015 – will support people across Maine and the nation as they strive to achieve energy independence.

“People across the country should have the right to make their own energy choices without having to jump through hoops or face the possibility of being penalized by unreasonable fees,” Senator King said. “Right here in Maine, Friends School of Portland is deploying innovative technologies that will help it operate almost entirely independent of the electric grid. My legislation would ensure that people can do what FSP has done: take their energy future into their own hands. By protecting the right of people to connect to the grid and by ensuring that grid-owners and operators are properly compensated, my bill would stimulate the growth of cutting-edge energy technologies, create jobs, and help usher in a new clean energy era defined by personal choice.”

Senator King today toured the new Cumberland-based campus for the Friends School of Portland (FSP), a 15,000 square foot building that, when completed this fall, will attain Passive House certification, the highest international standard for energy efficiency. The new school will not rely on traditional fuels – such as oil, gas, coal or wood – but instead, utilize distributed energy technologies, like solar electric panels, to help produce as much energy as it uses.

However, as more people and organizations across the country begin to follow FSP’s lead in deploying distributed technologies to achieve energy independence, questions arise over how those technologies interact with and connect to the larger energy grid that’s operated and maintained by utility companies. In some cases, utilities in different states have sought to limit the expansion of distributed technologies by charging expensive fees to connect them to the grid, which often discourages cost-weary consumers from pursuing the technologies, stifles the industry’s growth, and maintains reliance on the grid.

The Free Market Energy Act of 2015, introduced by Senator King earlier this month, would   help foster the movement toward personal energy independence by protecting the right of consumers to connect their distributed resources to the larger electric grid without having to pay an exorbitant fee to the utilities. Meanwhile, it would also ensure that grid owners and operators receive proper compensation through a more sophisticated electricity rate design that would maximize the potential of distributed energy resources in relation to the grid. By establishing the criteria for these new technologies, the Free Market Energy Act of 2015 would allow for the continued development of advanced renewable technologies along with the jobs they support and cultivate a new era of energy independence for people across the nation.

Friends School of Portland is an independent Quaker day school for preschool through eighth grade. It was founded in 2006 and, for the 2014-15 academic year, enrolls 90 students and employs 20 faculty and staff members. The school is a member of the Friends Council on Education and is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. Several students, many of whom have been involved in the design process, accompanied Senator King on today’s tour.

Photos: Sen. King touring the new, highly-efficient Friends School of Portland campus.


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