Solar Energy

Solar Energy


Information below adapted from the Natural Resource Council of Maine materials.  

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  • Debated this year, LD 1649 would have increased solar power in Maine by tenfold over the next five years.  Although passed by both the Republican-controlled Senate and Democratic-controlled House, Governor LePage vetoed the bill, with the attempted override failing by only two votes.

  • Prices for solar panels have fallen 75% in the last five years, making it a great option for producing electricity in Maine.

  • States and nations with less sun than Maine are building huge amounts of rooftop solar. But our state has no vision or plan for how to make solar accessible to more Mainers. All other New England states are doing more to help people develop and benefit from solar power, and they are creating a significant number of solar industry jobs. Massachusetts has six times more solar jobs per capita than Maine. Massachusetts already has 360 MW of operational solar power. They also have 8,400 direct solar jobs. (Their success and growth led them to expand their solar goal to 1,600 MW by 2020.)  Maine has the beginnings for a robust solar industry, with an estimated 45 companies and 270 direct jobs (which likely support over 300 indirect jobs.)

  • Solar power can be generated in every Maine town, urban or rural. It’s freeto produce but requires an up‐front investment to install.  The town of Belfast, for example, has taken great leadership here.

  • Maine continues to send $5 billion each year out‐of‐ state to buy imported fossil fuels. 
The path to less dollar drain and more energy independence is more homegrown renewable energy.

  • Corporate utility monopolies are lobbying to limit solar
power for Maine homes and businesses. They want to
reduce how much Maine people get paid for the solar electricity they produce, and oppose policies to make solar more accessible to more Mainers. Mainers need to take charge of our own electricity.  Power plants are a leading source of climate‐changing pollution. It is important that we increase 
cleaner energy since climate change threatens Maine’s economy and way of life in countless ways.

  • Solar panels provide extra value because they produce clean power when we need it the most—on hot 
summer days when power from the electric grid is the most expensive and most polluting. 

  • Maine is falling behind other states in solar energy, solar jobs, and cutting energy costs. Distributed rooftop solar power is increasingly seen as a way to limit expensive transmission and distribution costs, which are driving up electric rates for Mainers. 


Examples of regional successes in Maine:

  • In the Boothbay pilot project, distributed solar power was a big part of the package that saved ratepayers 2/3 of the cost of a proposed transmission build-out.

  • In FY 2012, Efficiency Maine used $685,000 in federal funds for the solar rebate program, leveraging $7 million in private investment (more than 10:1.)

  • Kennebec Valley Community College is one of eight regional training providers for the Solar Instructor Training Network, a DOE funded initiative.

Maine People’s Alliance believes solar energy development is critical to mitigate the effects of climate change.  We support a broad array of approaches, like LD 1649.  Again, from the Natural Resource Council of Maine:


That bill used several market mechanisms to achieve the required amounts of solar at the lowest price possible. It uses competitive auctions for large-scale solar, and set rates for smaller solar that will be guaranteed for 20 years. The rate will be set based on what is needed to achieve the targets. A central innovation is that the solar from this policy must be purchased by the utilities, acting as a “standard buyer.” That solar output will be aggregated and re-sold into energy markets on behalf of all ratepayers—the costs and benefits from solar can therefore be more easily shared by all. The policy is designed to return a net benefit to ratepayers, which means everyone who buys power in Maine will benefit with lower rates.


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