The Maine Public Utilities Commission recently recommended phasing out net metering for solar generators.

Net metering means that the utility provides 1 kilowatt-hour in exchange for every kilowatt-hour put into the grid from a solar source. As a homeowner who generates solar power for the grid, I urge the PUC to revisit its stance and support the present net metering policy.

Since 2010, our home system has produced over 30,000 kwh of electricity. That translates into almost 50,000 pounds of carbon that we did not put into the atmosphere. In addition, the 10,000 miles we have put on our zero-emission electric car (not a hybrid) meant another 6,000 pounds of carbon dioxide not added to our atmosphere’s problems.

The excess electricity that we produce goes back into the grid, for which we receive no compensation – unlike Massachusetts, let’s say, where we would get credits for the electricity we produce. Central Maine Power then can sell our surplus at retail rates.

In addition, we pay CMP over $120 a year to remain connected to the grid. So it’s not as if solar power means we get electricity for free.

We also produce peak power at the time the grid needs it most. During an average summer day, our solar panels produce about 30 to 35 kwh of electricity, of which we consume less than 5 kwh. The rest goes into the grid just at the time the grid is getting its peak demands for air conditioning.

What’s not to like about solar power? The PUC should continue net metering or adopt the recent proposals of the joint industry-utility-user group on fair compensation for solar power producers.

Robert and Connie McChesney


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