Gov. LePage falsely claims that pro-solar policies are supported by out-of-state groups and highly paid lobbyists, while in fact the exact opposite is the case.

I was one of many ordinary Mainers who took time out last year to testify in support of net metering. We weren’t paid one red cent to do so. We testified because we care about fairness and intelligent energy policy.

In sharp contrast, among the very few individuals testifying against legislation that called for maintaining financial incentives for rooftop solar electricity was Ashley Brown, a former Ohio regulator who has made a career out of testifying against net-metering policies in numerous states. Upon questioning, it emerged that Mr. Brown was paid $600 per hour to do so, and that he considered even this outrageously excessive sum to be insufficient for his lobbying efforts.

Since the Legislature’s shameful failure to override the governor’s veto of the pro-solar legislation, the situation has worsened. Poised to take effect are the Maine Public Utilities Commission’s recent gross-metering rule and proposals to double fees to connect solar customers to the grid, hurting Mainers and our grid’s resiliency.

The PUC has also put foreign-owned Central Maine Power – which has a business model based on installing power poles and lines – in charge of proposing alternatives to that distribution model, a flagrant conflict of interest. As last fall’s windstorm and massive power outages so clearly showed, it is also an outdated and unworkable business model.

The answer to massive power outages is not to double down on old-fashioned, costly grid upgrades at the expense of solar customers. Instead, we should follow the enlightened lead of utilities like Vermont’s Green Mountain Power by investing in local solar generation and micro-grid systems. While CMP and the PUC collude to keep the state’s electricity grid inefficient and obsolete, the Legislature must take the lead to bring Maine’s grid into the 21st century.

Janet Lynch