Augusta, ME (May 30, 2019) – A bipartisan bill aimed at sparking the development of solar energy in Maine received approval from the Legislature’s Energy, Utilities & Technology Committee (EUT) late last night.
LD 1711, sponsored by Senator Dana Dow (R-Lincoln), would stimulate solar energy across the state by breaking down outdated barriers to investment and opening up opportunities for businesses, municipalities, and low- to medium-income households to reduce their energy bills with solar. The bill now heads to the full House and Senate for their consideration.
Although updated in key ways and amended in parts by the committee, core elements of the bill have been under discussion and received positive votes from the Legislature over the last several years. Many came out of dialogue led by the former Public Advocate, who sought to increase solar in ways that maximize ratepayer benefits.
In response to the 10-2 vote by EUT, the Natural Resources Council of Maine released the following statement from Clean Energy Director Dylan Voorhees:
“This bipartisan solar bill is an essential step forward in making our climate and energy goals a reality. Maine has fallen badly behind on solar power, and decisive action by the House and Senate in the coming weeks is essential to turning the state around. Creating competitive markets for solar power will help us build the electric grid of the future, reducing our reliance on polluting fossil fuels, lower costs, and create hundreds of good jobs.
The vast majority of Mainers want the state to act swiftly in adopting innovative renewable technologies and solutions that will help us become more energy independent. Governor Mills has rightly made updating and strengthening solar policy a key priority of her Administration.
Expanding renewable energy across Maine, including ‘distributed’ solar power, will help residents, businesses, and towns reduce energy costs and keep our energy dollars in the Maine economy instead of flowing out of state for imported fuels. One exciting aspect of this bill is the significant emphasis on expanding community solar, which would dramatically increase access to solar for all Maine people, businesses, and towns.
The next step for the EUT Committee is to pass companion legislation related to the Renewable Portfolio Standard, LD 1494, to put Maine on a clear pathway to meeting Governor Mills’ target of 80% renewable power by 2030.
We congratulate Senator Dow on this positive step forward for LD 1711 and thank the hard-working members of the EUT Committee who put in many hours to consider and improve this important legislation. In particular, we commend Senator David Woodsome, whose leadership has included sponsoring similar legislation in the past, and the Committee chairs, Senator Mark Lawrence and Representative Seth Berry, for their steady leadership.”