To the editor:
Please tell your local representatives to support Rep. Seth Berry’s bill that will set us on the right path to a sunny and “bright” future with renewable solar energy.
It’s good news that the Maine Legislature is considering a number of bills that will shore up the state’s vital infrastructure for a competitive economy, good jobs, and quality of the environment – whether in broadband, water quality, or renewable energy, particularly solar electricity.
Rep. Seth Berry, D-Bowdoinham, and a growing number of co-sponsors have stepped forward with a bill to restore and expand net metering and state incentives to spur development of solar energy – “An Act to Protect and Expand Access to Solar Power in Maine.” If passed, it will counter recent rulings of the Maine Public Utilities Commission to phase out net metering – a terrible policy at a time when the country – and Maine – is going in the opposite direction.
Forty-three states plus the District of Columbia have adopted favorable net metering policies to encourage investment in solar energy. Net metering is a billing mechanism that credits residences and business owners for the electricity they produce and use each year. Maine needs to stay in the action and get back on a track with solar energy. Here are three good reasons:
Solar creates jobs, and good jobs to boot. In 2016, a remarkable one out of 50 jobs created in the U.S. came from the solar industry. A very active market has been developing in the state. We’ve several great and nationally recognized entrepreneurs and solar companies, and there are hundreds of independent electrical contractors who have the skills or are developing the skills to install systems – jobs, jobs, and more jobs!
Solar is cost-saving to ratepayers. The cost of local energy production in the long term will save consumers money. Contrary to some views, there’s no burden put on a ratepayer who is not using solar.
Other factors are significant. Between 2007 and 2016, the fastest-growing portion of our electric bill came from T&D – the transmission and distribution of electrical energy. T&D charges increased 80 percent! That’s where the burden lies. The next biggest cost comes from the volatile prices of fuel itself, whether oil, natural gas, coal, etc. Production and distribution of local energy is cost efficient.
Solar mitigates global warming. I think this is most important – indeed a moral reason to care for the planet’s future. Like the proverbial frog in the pot that gradually comes to a boil, but then, too late to save itself, climate change can be hard to come to grips with. But coastal communities – and our own traditional fisheries, lobsters, forestry, and natural habitats – are already beginning to brace for critical impacts. We may be a small fish in a big ocean, but can set an example.
Maine needs to stay on track and take advantage of this job-creating sector for a sustainable and healthy economy. Let’s take steps toward a bright future by making Maine a “bright spot” in renewable solar development.
Please tell your local representatives to support Rep. Seth Berry’s bill that will set us on the right path to a sunny and bright future with renewable solar energy.
Retired CEO, Coastal Enterprises Inc.
Member, Waldoboro Renewable Energy Committee
Board member, Solar Energy Association of Maine