Letters, online

May 30, 2019

Editor's note: The following letters pertain to legislation currently being considered in committee.

Support LD 1711

Ever-increasing electricity rates for commercial and municipal consumers are holding back economic growth. For Maine businesses to thrive, we need to have a competitive energy marketplace to keep rates down. I have worked in the solar energy industry for a decade, and I know that because of how most medium-sized commercial ratepayers are billed for transmission and distribution, solar energy is not as cost-effective under Maine’s Net Energy Billing rules.

A new bipartisan bill, LD 1711, includes a component that would help remove such barriers by changing the way these consumers are reimbursed for their solar electricity -- a new alternative to Net Energy Billing. These customers would be compensated through long-term fixed contracts with their utility provider, at roughly two-thirds to three-quarters of the blended retail rate. This would significantly boost the return on investment of a solar system by helping to offset expensive demand charges for electricity.

There are also two federal incentives: an energy tax credit and accelerated asset depreciation associated with a solar energy investment.  The phase down of the energy tax credit begins in 2020. Expanding policy mechanisms, such as fair solar kilowatt-hour compensation for demand billing customers, will allow Maine businesses to take advantage of these federal programs while they exist, further boosting economic growth.

Danny Piper

Co-owner, Sundog Solar, Searsport

Swanville

 

Support LD 1711

I have worked in the solar energy field since 2009, and I have seen how many barriers exist to clean energy development. Maine is among the last states for installed solar energy capacity and jobs, and we are missing out on the economic benefits of solar power.

High-quality jobs are created by keeping our energy dollars close to home.

A new bipartisan bill, LD 1711, would boost the development of 400 megawatts of distributed solar energy capacity by 2024, benefiting residential, commercial, municipal, and industrial consumers. This bill will allow solar energy to help reduce rates for all Mainers and remove existing hurdles to solar energy development through several approaches, including large-scale shared community solar farms.

Many seniors, renters, and low to moderate income people are missing out on the benefits of solar energy. Community solar farms create equal access for people that cannot otherwise use solar electricity. LD 1711 would make community solar farms available to all consumers by lifting the arbitrary nine-participant cap to 200. These solar farms allow a subscription model for purchasing solar electricity, lowering individual costs by sharing it among as many.

State policies play an enormous role in solar energy deployment by helping to create competitive markets for innovative energy technologies. LD 1711 is a well-crafted bill that would help Maine catch up with our current and future energy needs.

Chuck Piper

Co-owner, Sundog Solar, Searsport

Searsmont

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