Guest column

Why support renewables?

By Rep. S. Paige Zeigler | Oct 25, 2018

The last few days have made it clear we are moving into fall and, with that, heating season. We lit a fire in our stove, and I turned on our heat pump. The heat pump is a recent addition, because as we age, we know that the wood stove is going to become supplemental, not our main source of heat.

We were hoping also to add enough solar panels to compensate for the additional electrical use. Because of how our house is situated, we can’t add the panels to the roof or grounds; however, we thought we would buy into a solar farm, a large collection of solar panels on another person’s land.

That idea died when the Legislature failed to override the governor’s veto on a bill that would have allowed more people to buy into solar farms. I know that it failed, because I am in the Legislature. I saw people who’d initially voted for the bill then leave the chamber to avoid voting to override. They wanted to only appear to be supporting renewables.

Our state ranks last in New England when it comes to developing renewable energy. It’s time we change that. People say that by promoting renewables the state is picking winners and losers in the energy field. In reality, by not promoting renewables we are doing just that.

Fossil fuels are being subsidized to the tune of $20 billion a year, while renewables are allocated billions less. The administration has been picking its winner. And its winner is really the loser for the 21st century. The CEO of British Petroleum, previously only an oil and gas company, says it now encompasses all forms of energy. If BP sees the writing on the wall, then shouldn’t Maine?

Why support renewables? First, you can produce your own power. When you install LED lights, and if you use electric heat, good insulation and a more efficient heat pump, you reduce the amount of electricity you use, but you don’t control the price of the power.

However, when you have a renewable source, you control your production costs, and when you pay off the installation, you own it. We also need a structure for low-cost loans so that we can all purchase our own power. And we need to modernize the grid so it can handle the power entering the system.

The second reason to support renewables is the love you have for your children and for the state of Maine, whose future is at stake.

Like all of us, you must have noticed that our weather and climate are changing. The United Nations report released a few days ago reinforced the urgency of addressing climate change. We can no longer put off addressing the amount of carbon in the atmosphere.

Before you vote this fall, ask any candidates for office what their energy plan is, to ensure that no one will walk away from a vote for our future again.

Rep. S. Paige Zeigler, D-Montville, serves House District 96, which includes Belmont, Liberty, Lincolnville, Montville, Morrill, Palermo and Searsmont. He is running for re-election Nov. 6.

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