Maine Legislature Overrides Solar Veto

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Last week, lawmakers in Maine voted to override the governor’s veto of a Resolve to develop a comprehensive solar policy for the state. The Resolve directs the Public Utilities Commission to develop a solar proposal to bring before the legislature next year. The ultimate goal: an approach that will increase solar in Maine in a way that is equitable to all consumers.

The bipartisan support for the Resolve was the latest in a movement in a number of states to address their solar policies. The Maine Resolve was crafted with input from stakeholders on both sides, including installers, utilities, the Public Advocate, and environmental advocates led by the Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM).

Dylan Vorhees, NRCM Clean Energy Director, said, “We are pleased that the Legislature voted overwhelmingly, and in a bipartisan way, to override Governor LePage’s veto of the solar Resolve.”

Although Maine has experienced a surge of solar activity lately, the lack of a comprehensive solar policy has been a struggle for the state. Representative Sara Gideon, who sponsored the Resolve, said, “Maine has an enormous opportunity to reap great benefits from solar power, but it is time for the state to catch up in taking advantage of this rapidly evolving technology…. Making progress on solar will require diverse parties coming together to support real solutions. The legislature did that in a bipartisan way and now the parties and the PUC have a chance to continue that dialogue.”

Now that the Resolve has passed, the next step is to explore net metering and the impact that has on Maine’s utility customers, both those who use solar, and those who do not.

Fortunat Mueller, co-founder of Revision Energy, a solar installation company in New England, said, “The PUC’s study of the real value of electricity from solar panels concluded that its value is roughly 33 cents per kilowatt hour: more than twice the 13 cent/kilowatt-hour credit that homeowners with solar now receive. That means there is room to do better, both for solar owners and for other ratepayers who want to capture some of that value.”

“Crafting a new and effective solar policy for Maine will take hard work and many months of discussion and negotiation, and NRCM will be there at the table,” said Voorhees.

“The beauty of the process as it’s laid out is that it allows the stakeholders to continue to be involved,” Gideon was quoted as saying in the Bangor Daily News.