Maine needs to grow its solar energy industry to create good jobs and reduce electricity prices. As a designer and builder, I have promoted energy-efficient housing in Maine for almost 40 years. Finally, solar electricity has arrived as an economical tool enabling the building of net zero housing, which annually produces as much energy as it uses.

Time to change our old ways of doing business? Over the last 10 years, the price of transmitting and distributing power has increased by 80 percent in Maine. Driving those rising costs are new and expensive transmission lines that promise a good return on investment to utility companies, while increasing electricity rates to customers. It’s a classic win-lose scenario.

Solar power offers viable solutions. Making solar power systems more accessible for Maine small businesses and residents helps lower and stabilize energy costs for everyone by reducing the need for new transmission lines.

It’s an opportunity to, literally, put the power back into the hands of Mainers. Sensible legislation can get us there.

Rep. Seth Berry’s bill, “An Act to Protect and Expand Access to Solar Power in Maine,” supersedes the punitive, anti-solar rules just finalized by Maine’s Public Utilities Commission, favoring large corporations over those of average Mainers. The bill will also restore the state’s solar rebate program, eliminate caps on participants in solar arrays and allow for third-party ownership of solar projects.

Combined, these efforts will offer a powerful incentive for solar expansion, while creating technical jobs and delivering a boost to Maine’s economy by making it a more attractive place to do business.

In this scenario, everyone wins.

I am thankful that Rep. Patrick Corey of Windham understands the benefits solar can bring to Maine and that he voted in support of solar during the last legislative session. I ask that he vote “yes” this session on Berry’s bill.

Thomas Peterson