Ray of hope: moving Maine out of last place in solar

Ray of hope: moving Maine out of last place in solar

The Public Utilities Commission will soon hold meetings to figure out how to help Maine residents afford solar installations. The commission is responding to the resolve that became law last month after an override of Governor LePage’s veto.

Resolve 1235 calls for the state to find a way to fairly compensate people who generate energy. Dylan Voorhees, clean energy director with the Natural Resources Council of Maine, says it’s a welcome first step that could help jump-start the state’s use of solar.

“It tells the Public Utilities Commission, you need to propose a way that people in Maine who do solar can get compensated and have some appropriate incentives so that it’s easier for them to install solar,” says Voorhees.

Lawmakers directed the PUC to begin gathering input from stakeholders. Those meetings should start late this summer or early fall.

Voorhees says there is little cost with solar once the panels are up and running, but it can take a sizable investment.

“So, helping get over that upfront barrier is what a lot other states are doing around us and we’re seeing the number of solar installations and the number of solar jobs through roof all around us,” he says. “Maine is in last place, per capita, on the number of solar panels and the number of solar jobs.”

Voorhees says the timing of the action is also important, because it gives time for the utilities, the industry and solar advocates to collaborate on a long-term solar incentive policy, before the federal tax credits expire in 2016.

Story via Mike Clifford with the Maine News Service. Photo via Flickr/Alan Levine.

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