Statement of Dylan Voorhees, Clean Energy Project Director, Natural Resources Council of Maine
“Today the Maine Legislature gave near unanimous support and final approval to a landmark bill that seeks to increase the use of solar energy in Maine. LD 1652 is good news for our economy, clean air, and Maine’s energy independence because it lays the foundation for a stronger role for solar energy in Maine.
“Solar energy is a clean, renewable, local and abundant energy resource, one that creates good paying Maine jobs that can’t be outsourced. Solar is booming around us as prices fall and the benefits of solar multiply. It’s time for Maine to make plans for capturing those benefits.
“For the first time Maine will have set goals in law for increasing our use of solar energy. The bill sends a message that Maine invites continued and increasing investment in clean solar energy.
“It also directs the Public Utilities Commission to conduct a comprehensive analysis of the benefits and costs of solar so that policymakers have good information about the quantifiable value of solar.
“The fact is, if we don’t take action, peak demand on the electric grid will keep driving up rates. Solar is a critical part of Maine’s sustainable energy economy and affordable, stable electric rates.
“This bill sets us on a path to assess options and establish common sense policies to accelerate solar. More work remains to be done, but this is a fantastic step by the Legislature.”
LD 1652 establishes broad goals on solar energy for Maine for the first time. The bill establishes the goals of (among others): increasing the amount of solar in Maine on the roofs of homes and businesses, and ensuring that solar energy makes a meaningful contribution to the electric grid and Maine’s energy independence and reduced oil usage.
The bill, sponsored by Senator Eloise Vitelli (D-Sagadahoc), was worked on intensively by the Energy and Utilities committee over five weeks of work sessions, earning a unanimous committee vote and overwhelming support by the House and Senate.
The Director of the Governor’s Energy Office worked with the committee on the bill. The committee listened to his input and requested changes, which brought acceptance of the bill from the Administration.
The PUC will undertake a multi-part study of solar economics and policy options this year, with a report due in early 2015.