As a fourth-generation Mainer and a co-founder and principal investor of Maine-based company Dirigo Solar, I know that L.D. 1986 is crucial to our state’s transition to a clean-energy economy. My family has lived in and contributed to the economy in Maine for decades. Growing up, my grandfather started a sawmill in Madawaska, and my grandmother taught in a one-room school in Bryant Pond. I have spent years involved in Maine’s paper and lumber industries, and even represented the paper industry as an attorney at one point in time.

Electrician Zach Newton works on wiring solar panels at the 38-acre BNRG/Dirigo Solar farm in Oxford in 2021. Dirigo Solar has developer enough energy to power about 22,000 Maine homes. Robert F. Bukaty/Associated Press, File

Today, I firmly believe in the transition to cleaner energy and in its importance to growing our state’s economy. That’s why, eight years ago, I started Dirigo Solar to help bring cost-effective clean energy to Maine and reinvigorate the local energy infrastructure in a sustainable way.

At Dirigo Solar, our mission is to lower the cost of power for Maine homeowners and businesses by building local solar. Through our work with area businesses and farms, we are able to co-locate solar power, meaning sharing fields with livestock and crops, and have developed enough energy to power about 22,000 homes. Dirigo and other solar developers are making significant investments in Maine’s renewable-energy infrastructure that will benefit Mainers for years to come, but we can’t do it alone. Policymakers need to do their part, which is why I believe that our state must continue to pass legislation that allows for and builds out infrastructure for clean-energy programs, in which solar plays a critical role.

Soon, the Maine Legislature will be voting on L.D. 1986, An Act Relating to Net Energy Billing and Distributed Solar and Energy Storage Systems. This legislation is the key to building Maine’s clean-energy economy. L.D. 1986 will hold utility companies accountable by ensuring an accurate accounting of net energy billing benefits and costs. In addition, it will establish the Distributed Solar and Energy Storage Program to fund cost-effective solar facilities and systems in the state, utilizing federal funding to ensure that low- and moderate-income Mainers benefit directly from the program. With this thoughtful vision for supporting renewable energy, we can bring new business and jobs to our state, provide Mainers with affordable renewable energy and do our part to reduce emissions and help the environment.

Solar energy is a rapidly growing market and is great business for our state. Bringing new solar and clean energy projects to Maine will create new businesses and jobs, build local tax bases and provide supplemental income to Maine landowners. It’s clear that legislators should support L.D. 1986: It supports the growth of a clean energy economy in Maine.

But that’s not all. It can also benefit Mainers by lowering costs of power. Right now, the cost of electricity from fossil fuels has skyrocketed because our source of electricity, natural gas, is tied to world events, while solar energy can be built at lower costs.

Maine has already taken strides toward building a clean-energy economy, and we can’t lose the momentum now. As a Mainer and a local solar company founder, I believe in the future of a robust clean-energy economy in Maine, and passing L.D. 1986 is a crucial step toward making it a reality.

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