2017-03-17 / Letters

Legislator supports solar energy for entire state

To the editor:

The city of South Portland has demonstrated admirable leadership in its efforts to develop and further encourage solar energy resources for municipal, business and residential use. The city council just approved a large photovoltaic array that will provide electricity to the city’s school and municipal buildings. This will lower electricity costs for local government and, more importantly, point the way toward greater energy independence for the whole community. Recent proposals from the planning department to provide home and business owners with explicit guidance about allowable solar arrays will further encourage local initiatives.

In 2016, solar became the largest source of new power installed in the United States, surpassing both wind and natural gas. For South Portland, a community heavily tied to fossil fuel infrastructure, this growth represents an opportunity to begin moving purposefully toward a future with fewer environmental risks. The state of Maine, however, continues to make this transition more difficult than it need be. Our state is already last in the Northeast in embracing solar expansion. In the absence of comprehensive legislation and in the face of the Public Utilities Commission’s recent rollback of net metering we will continue to fall behind as solar resources change the economic landscape in our neighboring states.

This anti-solar climate leaves small businesses at a competitive disadvantage and discourages the kind of larger-scale municipal project that South Portland has just initiated. It stifles the creation of goodpaying technology jobs that might enable many young Mainers, whom we say we desperately need, to work and live close to home.

Recent polling shows an overwhelming majority of Mainers, throughout the state and across party lines, want to see the Public Utility Commission’s new rule reversed and more solar resources developed. My representative in District 33, Kevin Battle, has voted for positive solar legislation in the past and has now indicated an intention to support a current proposal by Rep. Seth Berry to introduce “An Act to Protect and Expand Access to Solar Power.” This legislation would reopen the door to the type of solar development that so many people hope to see.

I appreciate Rep. Battle’s stance in favor of solar power and urge my fellow citizens to make him aware of our support for his position on this important matter affecting the economic health of our state.

Robert McKeagney South Portland

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