2017-06-29 / Editorial

Maine solar policy is changing for the better

Legislative Lowdown
by Rep. Martin Grohman

Some parts of Maine’s solar economy are working well and other parts are just barely limping along. That’s why, together with Sen. Tom Saviello of Franklin County, I am sponsoring legislation to stabilize Maine’s solar markets. We recognize this growing segment of Maine’s economy, and we want to put standards in place that allow it to grow. Reasonable policy can ensure all solar market segments are creating good jobs for more Mainers as well as protecting us from the whims of the fossil fuel market. Many readers have contacted me regarding this policy, known as LD1504.

We intend to stabilize the rooftop solar market by providing for a reasonable extension of our state’s successful solar net metering program while policymakers consider alternatives for the future. In the meantime, we must ensure that consumers and businesses with rooftop solar are compensated fairly. It keeps more of our energy dollars in the local economy. It creates jobs and increases our energy independence and security.

It’s not just for homes. Done correctly, solar makes businesses more competitive by helping stabilize their energy costs.

An unusual consortium of environmental advocates and large industrial energy users has emerged to support the proposed new legislation. Certainly, there are detractors, who argue that those who have installed solar and thus have lower power bills are subsidized by those who haven’t yet added solar panels. It’s somewhat like the argument that those who have invested in fuel efficient cars should pay higher tolls because they don’t pay their share of gas taxes. However, as more fuel efficient cars hit the road, demand for gasoline has dropped, reducing prices for everyone. A similar result is possible for electricity.

As we near the finish line on the state budget, I am always honored to hear from you either in support of or in opposition to any matter before the Legislature at martin. grohman@legislature.maine.gov or on my home phone at 283-1476.

Rep. Martin Grohman of Biddeford is serving his second term in the Maine Legislature. Outside the legislature, he is chair of the Solid Waste Commission, and hosts a podcast for entrepreneurs called The Grow Maine Show, available on Apple Podcasts. Sign up for legislative updates at www.growmaine.com or facebook.com/repgrohman.

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