It’s reassuring to see that Maine businesses are forging ahead with solar projects in spite of the myopic stance that some Republicans in the Maine Legislature still cling to. While every other state in New England has policies in place to promote solar, these legislators struggle to grasp the big picture, ignoring the benefits to all ratepayers of electricity produced by solar.

Public utilities commissions in states from Nevada to Minnesota to Vermont have determined that rooftop solar is a benefit to all ratepayers when all costs and benefits are accounted for, as the Brookings Institution concluded in its May 2016 report “Rooftop solar: Net metering is a net benefit.”

We don’t know yet the fate of the three bills currently being worked on by the energy committee in Augusta (L.D. 1373, L.D. 1444 and L.D. 1504), but what we do know for sure is that if the new Maine PUC ruling, scheduled to go into effect in 2018, is left in place, all ratepayers will be on the hook for at least $2 million over three years because of new billing systems and extra meters. And the existing solar industry in Maine will be in jeopardy.

And what are the “big picture” benefits of solar that accrue to all of us? They include good jobs and economic activity in struggling communities, decreased costs of peak demand energy purchases, decreased utility infrastructure costs and a cleaner environment that supports tourism. What’s not to like?

We’re poised to shoot ourselves in the foot … again. If this matters at all to you, please reach out to your legislators.

Mary Ann Larson


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