by Ed Morin
MPBN news story
PORTLAND, Maine – Solar power advocates were in Augusta today to persuade Maine lawmakers to continue compensating residents and small businesses for the solar-generated energy they provide to the grid using a scheme called net metering.
Under proposed legislation, existing solar customers would be credited for the power they send to the grid through 2029. New solar customers would be compensated under rates set in a long-term contract.
Chuck Piper, with Sundog Solar in Searsport, calls the solar legislation a jobs bill. He says his grandfather and uncle worked all their lives at the soon-to-close Madison paper mill, “and with the possibility of 800 new jobs, I believe we can help take up some of the slack where the paper mills have lost jobs.”
Utilities like Central Maine Power and Emera say the existing net metering policy is unfair because when solar generators put power back on the grid they benefit at the expense of all rate-payers, whose bills pay for daily upkeep and administration of the transmission lines.
Net metering is part of a larger bill that aims to increase solar power in Maine ten-fold in five years. The LePage administration says the compromise legislation would hurt rate-payers.