Maine solar installers, local and national businesses, environmental organizations, and the newly formed Solar Energy Association of Maine have delivered a petition with nearly 4,000 signatures to the state legislature, urging the Maine Public Utilities Commission (PUC) and lawmakers to preserve current net-metering policies.
The petition comes as regulators review the current policies and alternatives, and the legislature is expected to take up legislation this month that will determine whether solar net metering will continue for Mainers. The petition also follows a letter signed by 15 groups similarly calling for regulators to maintain solar net-metering rules.
“Alternative policies, without the certainty of net metering as a side-by-side, give utility monopolies even more power,” says Chris Rauscher, director of public policy for Sunrun and a Maine native.
The Solar Energy Association of Maine claims that without a legislative fix that keeps net metering intact, nearly 400 solar jobs and almost 50 solar businesses in Maine are at risk.
“We opened Sundog Solar six years ago and began offering Mainers energy independence with solar energy products and installations. Along the way, we have created 10 new jobs, and we are about to add more,” says Chuck Piper of Sundog Solar. If lawmakers and the PUC decide to eliminate net metering, Piper continues, “We will be forced to lay off our workers.”
“Maine needs a win-win solar policy that puts consumers’ interests ahead of monopoly utilities, while encouraging investment and good jobs in community and large-scale solar power plants,” adds Glen Brand, Sierra Club Maine Chapter Director.
Steve Weems of Brunswick says, ” Net metering is understandable and useful, especially for smaller-scale projects. Don’t fix it if it isn’t broken!”