In a time of polarization, Gov. Paul LePage supports eliminating the 100-megawatt ceiling for hydropower under the Renewable Resource laws. This would allow Hydro Quebec to provide clean energy in Maine on the same footing as biomass, solar and wind. This is an unlikely but promising intersection of the interests of a conservative governor looking to cut electricity costs and the interests of those wishing to reduce fossil fuel emissions to lower global warming risks.
Environmental advocates are admirably defending net metering, which promotes the growth of both solar electricity and solar jobs in Maine. My wife and I can attest that net metering works, as our panels cover our needs and send a surplus back to the grid. Since installation, we pay only for the CMP connection. We support the great people installing these panels statewide.
However, deniers of man-made climate change are in charge in Washington and may be for longer than you think. Federal tax credits and other clean power initiatives are severely threatened. Under this leadership reality, anyone who believes that global warming is a looming catastrophe shouldn’t be waiting for perfect solutions. It’s true that the state’s growing solar industry could be impacted if hydropower becomes more competitive. But we need, solar, wind and other emerging sources of clean power. Biomass is a much less clean source of power, but already receives the incentives in Maine law that Hydro Quebec would receive. Hydropower complements the seasonal and time of day ups and downs of solar generation. Transmission lines could be largely underwater, such as those planned to bring power to Boston.
We can’t wait for perfect solutions when facing a problem of enormous urgency.