People should be upset to learn that taxpayer-funded solar collectors were irresponsibly, perhaps fraudulently, installed in shade or with such sloppy workmanship that the project increased fossil energy consumption. Although the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting found these unacceptable results in an extremely limited sample of six Maine State Housing Authority solar hot water installations, it would be reckless and irresponsible to tar Maine’s entire solar energy industry with one brush. Everyone should take note that the installer of these systems is out of business.
When designed and installed by skilled professionals, a properly sized solar hot water system can save more than 300 gallons of oil per year and eliminate more than 5,000 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions annually on a single home. With 450,000 Maine homes heated with oil, and unnecessarily burning millions of gallons of oil to make domestic hot water when the sun is shining, it is imperative that the state continue to support the installation of high quality solar hot water systems.
Since the last of MSHA’s systems were installed in 2008, Maine solar companies have installed more than 2,000 high-quality solar energy systems throughout the state. We welcome a rigorous assessment of these installations to prove that when done correctly, solar hot water is a cost-effective remedy to reduce fossil fuel energy consumption and the associated emissions. Maine, after all, is the most oil dependent state in the U.S. and we have the highest per-capita carbon dioxide emissions in New England.