Franklin Countys First News

Letter to the Editor: Support LD 1711

Ever-increasing electricity rates for commercial and municipal consumers are holding back economic growth. For Maine businesses to thrive, we need to have a competitive energy marketplace to keep rates down. I have worked in the solar energy industry for a decade, and I know that because of how most medium-sized commercial ratepayers are billed for transmission and distribution, solar energy is not as cost-effective under Maine’s Net Energy Billing rules.

A new bipartisan bill, LD 1711, includes a component that would help remove such barriers by changing the way these consumers are reimbursed for their solar electricity - a new alternative to Net Energy Billing. These customers would be compensated through long-term fixed contracts with their utility provider, at roughly two-thirds to three-quarters of the blended retail rate. This would significantly boost the return on investment of a solar system by helping to offset expensive demand charges for electricity.

There are also two federal incentives: an energy tax credit and accelerated asset depreciation associated with a solar energy investment. The phase down of the energy tax credit begins in 2020. Expanding policy mechanisms, such as fair solar kilowatt-hour compensation for demand billing customers, will allow Maine businesses to take advantage of these federal programs while they exist, further boosting economic growth.

Danny Piper
Co-owner of Sundog Solar, Searsport

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9 Responses »

  1. Solar energy is not cost effective in any sense of the definition. Maybe if you live on the equator where the sun stays overhead 12 hours a day and out from behind clouds for 320 days a year, then maybe solar is worth it. In a state that saw less then 100 sunny days last year, solar is a massive rip off used to fool hippies into thinking they are saving the planet while in reality, that even with tax credits and a CMP kickback, solar never even comes close to paying for itself or even offering a decent return on the investment.

  2. HB is right on this one. You can sell a liberal on anything if you can work the word green into the description. Subsidized windmills and solar, how about checking the math on these vs tax dollars spent?

  3. Captain Planet:

    Fossil fuels have received much more in subsidies than solar and wind, and, in return they've provided carbon pollution that kills over 9 million people annually (WHO), over 200,000 of them in the US every year (MIT.edu).
    The return on solar and wind subsidies is clean energy now cheaper than any fossil fuels, prices still plummeting and projected to be "essentially free" by 2030 (Financial Times, UBS, Aug 2018), creating a second industrial revolution without the pollution. Clean energy will also save us over $160 trillion climate disasters will otherwise cost the US (Forbes, April 2019). Just a half degree increase in global temperature will cost the US economy $13 trillion (National Academy of Sciences) and you're complaining about clean energy subsidies! Talk about pennywise and pound foolish! We're pretty much locked into that half-degree increase thanks to people like you. Do some research.

  4. Hrtlss Bstrd:

    See my response to Captain Planet. Solar and wind are now cheaper than any fossil fuel worldwide (Forbes, Lazard, Bloomberg, etc.) plus, they don't have the hidden costs of health problems caused by fossil fuel pollution that cost Americans over $800 billion a year (Forbes.com).

  5. Pete, the temperature has been climbing for the past 12,000 years, that's not a new thing. Green energy is still the most costly to produce, a gas turbine powerplant costs about $1.5 million per megawatt to build, a wind turbine costs $2.2-$3 million per megawatt to build. Gas turbines cost $20 per kilowatt hour for overhead and maintenance, wind turbines cost $46 per kilowatt hour for O&M, offshore wind turbines almost 4 times that. Another thing, just based on current events in Maine, people have a problem with a power line in the middle of nowhere, what do you think they will say when somebody tells them they want to clear large tracts of land for wind turbines and associated pole lines? So while coal may have a shelf life, fossil fuel fired or biomass fired or even waste to energy power plants are not going anywhere. Green energy just can't compete.

  6. HB, you know that humans have accelerated the temperature climbing and there is more than substantial proof of that. You have to admit that the reason for the higher cost of 'green energy' (admittedly a rather bad name) is that millions of dollars have been spent to make sure that research, development and implementation of any type of more efficient and less polluting technology has been thwarted by gas/oil/coal businesses. There are communities in rural Germany (larger than Farmington) that run everything on solar energy and there are fewer days of sunlight both in intensity and duration than Maine. (they run on UV and not direct sunlight). So, let's acknowledge the entire story. Existing industries pay a LOT of $$$ to keep those figures that you cite as they are.

  7. Ozerki
    Here's the rest of the story re: Germany
    Germany has to produce extra electricity in part because the wind might flag or clouds might obscure the sun. If that happens and there aren't other sources that can be ramped up running in the background, the grid fails and creates blackouts.

    Usually, the sources kept running as a safeguard against grid failures caused by calming winds and clouds are dirty energy sources like coal. In fact, since Germany has been phasing out much of its nuclear power they're left with few options other than coal.

    Giving kudos to Germany for renewable energy is like saying socialism is working in Venezuela.

  8. Ozerki, You misunderstood me, I Am not against "green" energy, if people want to waste their money, it's theirs to waste. But holding onto any illusions that "green" energy will ever compete with or fully replace "burning" power plants, is foolish, especially in Maine, our weather and seasons almost guarantee lousy efficiency of "green" energy.

  9. What has happened to hydro ??? That is definitely eco friendly and yet, they keep removing the dams.
    Look at Flagstaff Lake … all that land flooded, homes moved and it was never completed. Why can't it
    be done now? There are many other areas in Maine that hydro could be used as well.

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