Two opinion pieces both extolling the virtues of solar power appeared in the newspaper on May 13 — our lucky day.

Solar power makes sense for Maine. Solar panels may cost a bundle to install, but the energy is free. Installation costs can be paid off in loan payments to a bank instead of 15 years of electricity bills. Then it’s all free — no more bills. If a house is shaded, the owner can join in as a participant in a solar farm project.

Strange as it may seem, a solar installation in Portland gains as much solar electrical power as one in Houston. Furthermore, the cost of solar panels has dropped 50 percent in five years, and there is a 30 percent federal tax credit on installations until the end of 2016.

Added to that, a recent PUC study analyzed the benefits of solar installations on private homes and businesses. It concluded that there was value to all CMP customers, even those without installed panels. It gave a price of 38 cents per kilowatt as a reasonable reimbursement to generators for power produced. That’s a lot more than the current rate of 14 cents with “net metering.”

So what are we waiting for?

Despite the advantages listed above, the situation for solar in Maine is poor. We are 10th of the 10 northeastern states in solar installations, primarily because there is no state tax credit, and we currently limit the number of participants in a solar farm to only 10.

The Legislature is considering making changes to benefit solar. I urge people to contact their state senators and representatives to encourage them. We will all win.

Peter Garrett


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