Letter: Solar energy promises good jobs, more choices

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LD 1373, “An Act to Protect and Expand Access to Solar Power in Maine,” submitted by Rep. Seth Berry, D-Bowdoinham, has a long list of Republican and Democratic co-sponsors. It’s refreshing to see legislators coming together on a bill that has so much job creation potential.

If passed, it will create hundreds of good-paying jobs in a technology of the future, make it possible for many low- and moderate-income Mainers and small businesses to become more energy independent, and will establish clear net metering requirements. The uncertainty around net metering that’s negatively affecting solar’s expansion in Maine will disappear.

The bill also eliminates barriers to community solar projects in Maine, allowing large numbers to benefit from a community solar project.

Why wouldn’t we want to have more choice around how we heat our homes or more freedom from high energy costs? A less-centralized power system is also less vulnerable to systemic shocks, such as severe weather or terrorism. There are many good reasons beyond the concerns about climate change to be supportive of a robust solar industry in Maine. Passage of LD 1373 can help us get there.

Gov. Paul LePage will most likely veto the bill, falsely citing increased costs to all ratepayers, but he’s simply doing the bidding of fossil fuel companies. The Public Utilities Commission issued a study in 2015 that documented the benefits to all ratepayers from increased solar capacity.

Please encourage your legislators to support LD 1373. Let’s create good jobs and more choices for Mainers.

Mary Ann Larson

  • stephan011

    No, rooftop solar isn’t being subsidized by other rate payers, every net energy metering study ever done, shows that there is no significant cost shift to other rate payers and that a rate based on the “value of solar” is close to the net energy rates already.

    The reason for this is that solar delivers power during peak demand when it’s needed the most, and is therefore more valueable. And because local generating capacity reduces the needs for infrastructure upgrades elsewhere.

    Moving to a ‘Value of Solar’ rate instead of the existing ‘Net energy metering’ is fair and is the right thing to do, but no one should be fooled into thinking it’s a big change.


  • MaineMod

    Yes, net metering absolutely IS a subsidy benefiting the net metering customers at a cost to other customers who do not net meter. Net metering customers remain connected to the grid, which requires resources (IE money) to operate and maintain. When net metering customers don’t pay their fair share to the utility, other customers must make up the difference. And please refrain from the argument that your monthly “customer charge” covers the grid maintenance costs. It does not; it only covers administrative costs, if that. While the subsidy may be small today, it is growing like a weed and will be considerable if not checked.

    Maine needs a solar policy that compensates solar customers in a sustainable manner and that does not penalize those of us for whom rooftop panels are not practical or affordable. It is not all about solar customers, it is about keeping the monthly light bill affordable for everyone.

  • PKM

    The commission shall assess transmission and distribution utilities to collect funds for the solar energy rebate program under subsection 2 in accordance with this subsection. The assessments by the commission under this subsection must be in accordance with the following schedule:
    A. For the period from July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2019, the assessment is 0.017 cent per kilowatt-hour;
    B. For the period from July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2021, the assessment is 0.013 cent per kilowatt-hour; and
    C. For the period from July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2022, the assessment is 0.008 cent per kilowatt-hour.

    So the the folks that can’t afford solar will end up paying for the rebates of the ones that can through higher energy costs. Brilliant plan.