A missed opportunity

To the Editor:

Did you know that Mainers export $5 billion per year from the local economy to import oil, propane and natural gas from away? Despite the staggering cost, we do not get energy security – instead we get energy price volatility, the Summit Natural gas disaster and the highest per-capita carbon emissions in New England.

The good news is that Maine has an abundant, local, renewable resource in the form of solar energy. The cost for solar technology has dropped by 75 percent over the past 10 years, creating an opportunity for Mainers to invest in local, distributed energy infrastructure that is far more resilient than natural gas pipelines and an electric grid that can be taken down by anyone with a gun and the desire to wreak societal havoc.

Battery technology also is progressing rapidly and will soon make the need for backup fossil fuel power irrelevant. Recently, our Legislature had a final opportunity to pass LD 1649, An Act to Modernize Maine’s Solar Policy & Encourage Economic Development, a bill that would have created 600-plus good jobs and save ratepayers $100 million over the next 20 years. They failed to override Gov. Paul LePage’s veto by two votes.

These savings would have been possible because the fuel source (sunshine) is eternally free and offsets the high cost of fossil fuels from away. LD 1649 was crafted by the public advocate (Tim Schneider), a LePage appointee whose sole job is to protect Maine ratepayers, so we could trust that this policy would have been good for Maine citizens rather than corporate interests.

Contact your representatives and senators to express your displeasure with their failure to pass LD 1649. It would have created a strong energy future for Maine that we control ourselves, rather than keeping us beholden to fossil fuel interests from away. This was a unique opportunity to start keeping that $5 billion right here at home in the local economy, building energy infrastructure that would have made us more secure.

Phil Coupe

Cape Elizabeth


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