Letter: Levy standby charge on solar energy users

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Enough about solar energy being the answer to all of Maine’s energy issues; it isn’t. It is a great addition to our energy mix, but it’s becoming an unfair transfer of costs to the rest of the electrical customer base and a detriment to the state’s economic growth. As technology presently exists, solar energy can’t be the unfaltering and reliable energy source required.

Solar provides diurnal solar energy; days when the grid receives little, if any, positive solar contributions; multi-day periods when the grid is totally dependent upon non-solar sources. It’s these costs, when net metering customers are unproductive for extended periods, that are unfair.

I accept the net metering concept, whereby they only pay for the electricity used, if they’re willing to accept a standby service charge. It’s made up of the additional costs imposed upon the overall electrical system, which not only supports its regular customers’ needs, but also those of the solar customers.

As the number of solar providers grows, the expense to the regular customer base moves from incremental to proportional costing, which in my mind is unfair for those who have no ability to participate in solar investments and unjust for those who cannot. The development of an acceptable standby charge would mitigate the squabbling.

Stephen Gorden

  • John in LB

    You are absolutely right – However, solar is not economic on its own merits. It needs to be incentivized or forced upon customers through regulatory means (e.g., low flow toilets) to expand its usage. As it stands, solar has a payback of 8 to 15 years, after all tax credits and other net metering benefits – so, no one is getting “rich” off of there installations – especially when you consider that equipment life expectancy is about 30 years. So, what we really have to examine is our social goals: Do we want renewables, or do we want lower electricity costs, or ???