Solar insanity

To the Editor:

Last week, the Maine Public Utilities Commission (PUC) voted to dramatically roll back Maine’s solar policy known as net metering. Net metering has made it possible for thousands of Maine homes and businesses to own and produce their own solar power, but the PUC voted to take Maine backward.

It’s more important than ever that the Legislature take action this session that stops Gov. Paul LePage’s appointed PUC from gutting solar in Maine. Please contact your legislators today.

Astonishingly, the PUC’s final decision is even worse than its draft rule we saw last fall, which was almost universally opposed by the public and stakeholders.

Ignoring more than 4,000 public comments, the PUC’s final rule will gut the longstanding ability of Maine people and businesses to generate their own power on fair terms; add expensive, burdensome new metering and billing costs to be paid by Maine ratepayers; and keep arbitrary barriers for community solar, namely a 10-person limit on community solar farms. The final rule is so extreme it will even assess new penalties on the solar power that people generate and use right in their homes and businesses.

These are the most extreme anti-solar rules in the country and will cripple Mainers’ abilities to invest in solar power, a competitive, reliable, local energy resource.

Existing customers and those who install solar in 2017 will be partially grandfathered, receiving full bill credits for their solar for 15 years – the shortest period for any state.

The PUC’s decision makes it clearer than ever that it is critical for lawmakers to regain control of our solar policy and pass legislation this session.

Please send an email to your legislators today and urge them to support Rep. Seth Berry’s (D-Bowdoinham) bill “An Act to Protect and Expand Access to Solar Power in Maine.” This bill will restore and protect net metering from the PUC, reestablish a solar rebate program and lift barriers on community solar.

With Maine already in last place for solar in the region, we can’t afford to go back even further.

Emmie Theberge

Natural Resources Council of Maine

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