In this March 19, 2019, file photo, the blades of wind turbines catch the breeze at the Saddleback Ridge wind farm in Carthage. Credit: Robert F. Bukaty / AP

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Stacey Fitts is the senior director of asset management at Onward Energy and a former Republican member of the Maine House of Representatives, where he represented District 29 (Pittsfield, Detroit and Clinton) from 2004–2012.

The way we produce and use energy is constantly evolving, with technologies like wind, solar and hydro power rapidly increasing in scale and reliability while decreasing in cost. Only by leading on clean energy development and renewable energy infrastructure can Republicans in Congress and Augusta help ensure that Maine is well-positioned for the future of energy production.

Investing in expanding renewable energy and enhancing our clean energy infrastructure including transmission and storage will not only keep Maine on the cutting edge of energy development, increasing sustainability and lowering costs for consumers, but it will also help create well-paying, 21st-century jobs for hard-working Mainers. Clean energy investments just make plain economic sense, particularly after the turbulence and uncertainties local businesses workers and all our communities have experienced over the past year or so.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, our state already leads New England in wind-powered generation and ranks sixth in the nation in terms of the proportion of electricity produced by wind energy. In 2019, renewable resources were responsible for the majority of in-state electricity generation. National investments in America’s clean energy infrastructure and renewable energy development will allow Maine to continue building on this progress in order to realize our full renewable potential.

Working in Maine’s thriving wind industry has allowed me to see firsthand the immense benefits well planned, large-scale wind energy production can have for our communities. Projects in Aroostook, Somerset and Hancock counties are helping to create local jobs, support local businesses and manufacturers, and provide an array of economic benefits for landowners and local communities alike, from lease payments to local and state tax revenue. Moreover, these efforts are helping increase the availability of renewable energy while lowering costs for Maine businesses and consumers.

Strengthening our national commitment to developing our renewable resources and investing in the infrastructure to support them is also critical to help America’s clean energy sector recover from the economic downturn that followed the coronavirus pandemic. Like every other industry, America’s clean energy sector was hit hard by the pandemic. The right infrastructure and clean energy investments can help put people back to work and allow these projects to be developed without harming already existing projects, ensuring America remains a leader in reducing carbon emissions.

Having served as a member of the Maine House of Representatives for eight years, I understand and appreciate all the hard work that goes into crafting thoughtful policy that addresses the needs and concerns of constituents. For her part, U.S. Sen. Susan Collins has always been a strong leader on bipartisan solutions that help secure a stronger, more reliable, and more innovative energy future for our state, and she deserves a lot of credit for that.

Collins recently helped introduce the Energy Storage Tax Incentive and Deployment Act, for example, which will help drive investments in innovative energy storage technology that will make renewables more reliable and affordable. This is the kind of leadership we need to see more of from Republicans in Congress in order to advance pro-growth solutions that tackle climate change while driving investments in America’s clean energy industry and across the spectrum of our economy.

The future of renewables in Maine is promising to be certain, but in order to fully take advantage of the abundant natural clean energy resources we have available to us, our elected officials in Washington need to make a concerted effort to increase investments in growing renewables here and throughout the nation. All Republicans in Congress should follow Collins’ lead on these efforts by putting forward bold, bipartisan solutions that make clean energy the priority it should be on Capitol Hill.