Testimony at the Maine Legislature
by Sue Jones, NRCM energy project director
Thank you for the opportunity to present comments in favor of LD 1586 on behalf of the Natural Resources Council of Maine (Council). I am Sue Jones and I live in Freeport. The Council is a public interest, nonprofit organization that seeks to protect and conserve Maine’s environment for now and future generations. As part of the Council’s work, we advocate for clean air and energy measures, including those that reduce air and global warming pollution.
Adoption of LD 1586 would help to encourage the use and installation of new solar photo voltaic (PV) and solar thermal systems in Maine. This would be accomplished by providing incentives for a modest number of installations.
We support LD 1586 with the following amendments:
1. Amend the eligibility date to allow all currently scheduled installations for 2005 to qualify for the incentives.
2. Increase the incentive for solar thermal as this is a bigger bang for the buck than with PV. In its current form, LD 1586 gives a proportionately larger incentive of 32% to PV than to solar thermal at 25%. Instead, we urge you to consider redistributing the incentives such that solar thermal would be eligible for a greater incentive. By far, solar thermal will generate more kilowatts for a cheaper price than PV; this equipment should get the larger incentive. Solar thermal systems should be made as attractive as possible as it is a more affordable option for more Mainers.
3. Amend the eligibility criteria regarding licensing. For PV, there are currently no master electricians who have NABCEP certification in Maine. Installations that are done by individuals with NABCEP certification that are approved by a master electrician should be sufficient to ensure safety and reliability. For solar thermal, the vast majority of installations done in Maine are not done by plumbers, but rather by solar hot water licensed installers, as required by law and administered by the PUC. That licensing program has been working well; no additional (costly) plumbing licensing requirements are necessary to ensure safe and reliable installations.
4. Extend the tax credit for PV systems as well as solar thermal.
With these proposed changes, the Council urges you to pass LD 1379.