Maine aims to bolster solar energy adoption with new plan

February 29, 2016 0 By Bret Williams

Maine lawmakers intend to increase solar adoption with a promising new plan

Maine is not often considered a viable place for solar energy to flourish, but this has not stopped lawmakers from showing support for this form of clean power. Several lawmakers have come together to promote the adoption of solar power, introducing a policy that calls for the development of 250 megawatts of solar capacity in the state over the next five years. This increased capacity is meant to support various customers, from commercial energy consumers to industrial customers. This capacity will also be used to provide electricity to the residential sector.

Plan may lead to lower costs for energy consumers

Main Public Advocate Tim Schneider believes that increasing solar capacity in the state will lead to lower energy costs for consumers. This is often one of the most attractive aspects of solar power, as many energy consumers want to spend less on the electricity that they are using. Because the cost of photovoltaic technology has fallen dramatically over the past few years, solar projects are able to sell electricity at a lower rate, making it more attractive for consumers.

Net metering will be eliminated if the new plan is successful

Solar Energy - Flag of MaineThe plan from the state’s lawmakers also intends to eliminate “net metering” on all new solar projects. Net metering allows consumers receiving energy from solar projects to sell any excess power they have back to utilities. This is also a popular aspect of solar power which has helped boost adoption, especially in the residential sector. The plan does allow for existing solar customers to continue selling excess energy, but on a very limited basis.

Solar advocates are concerned that the lack of net metering will negatively affect the solar sector

Solar advocates are somewhat unhappy with the elimination of net metering, as this practice has ensured the continued growth of the solar sector in Maine. Some advocates suggest that the plan will give more power to utilities, which already hold a monopoly in the energy market. Eliminating net metering may also have a negative impact on the solar sector in the form of lost jobs.