AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — Solar power provides relatively little energy in Maine, but some people want to change that. The legislature is considering a bill aimed at giving solar power a boost.
Supporters of LD 1649, or the solar bill, say Governor Paul LePage is spreading misinformation about the bill and believe it can help Maine’s economy if it passes. They say it’s a good deal, not only for consumers who want to go solar, but for local companies that install the systems. According to supporters, more than 800 jobs would be created.
“People are very interested in clean energy. They’re very interested in lowering their bills and having a stable electricity source,” said Sadie Alley Ferreria, Sundog Solar employee.
Emera Maine and Central Maine Power back the bill, as they’ve agreed to keep crediting customers for the solar power they create and don’t use, also known as net-metering.
Among the critics is Governor LePage, who says solar power will only increase the cost of energy, which is already too high for Maine’s businesses.
“Madison Paper is laying off and closing down. A lot of that is due to the high energy costs that we have in the state of Maine. This 20-year contract with above market rates will do that,” said Representative Nathan Wadsworth.
Wadsworth agrees with the Governor, saying in the long run, consumers will actually end up paying more in electricity costs. “Stable policy on net-metering creates a lot more predictability on solar and keeps from spiking in the job market. It creates for a steady market in solar power,” said Wadsworth.
Supporters of the bill say, if it doesn’t pass, it could make Maine’s situation worse. “We will lose jobs. People won’t be as confident in getting solar for their home, which is an investment a lot of people are willing to make,” said Ferreria.
Even if the House and Senate approve the bill, Governor LePage says he will veto it.