Energy markets throughout Maine are in the midst of a massive transformation powered by the popularity and growth of solar energy.

Per a recent Consumer Energy Alliance poll of voters statewide, at least 60 percent said they view solar favorably, while over 90 percent said it was the way to go environmentally. More than half said increasing electricity via solar and wind was a top priority.

The only way to do that is to make sure policymakers and utilities take the steps to ensure solar power remains affordable – for those who generate solar energy and those who don’t, an important fact that a July 30 article mentioning the Consumer Energy Alliance (an advocacy group) did not include.

Unfortunately, we’re not there yet.

About 68 percent of voters said that lowering the cost of energy – solar or not – was a top priority. When told that rooftop panels cost more than twice as much as large solar power facilities to produce electricity – remember, small solar power generators do not bear the same fixed costs to maintain and power the grid as non-solar power generators do – 58 percent said large solar power facilities would be the best way to increase solar.

And when asked whether customers should pay higher prices for electricity to support the companies and individuals who produce solar power, 72 percent said no.

What’s more, nearly half of participants said that building large solar power facilities to produce electricity was the best way to decrease solar energy costs for everyone.

These are key figures that lawmakers need to keep in mind Wednesday when they vote on whether to override Gov. LePage’s veto of L.D. 1504.

Maine needs policies that weigh the needs and costs of solar and non-solar generators equally and guarantee that solar remains a growing, important part of the state’s electricity portfolio – and L.D. 1504 doesn’t do it.

James Voyles

senior director, policy counsel, Consumer Energy Alliance

Washington, D.C.