The Maine Legislature will soon be voting on L.D. 1444, An Act Regarding Large-Sale Community Solar Procurement. The bill makes minor but important changes to a Public Utilities Commission rule that will go into effect on May 1. One of these changes will prevent a tax on power generated by solar panels owned by homeowners or businesses. Is it fair to tax homeowners on electricity that they generate with their own solar equipment? That is what will happen if L.D. 1444 does not pass. In addition, all Central Maine Power customers will experience a rate increase since CMP will need revenue for systems required to implement the tax.

Another effect of the bill is the removal of the existing arbitrary 10-person restriction on community solar projects. Allowing greater numbers of people to participate in a community solar project will encourage more solar installation. The bill does not prevent the PUC from changing net-metering rules in the future, however.

Eighty percent of America’s energy comes from finite fossil fuels that will become increasingly expensive and difficult to extract over coming decades. For this reason, we must move to renewable energy as rapidly as we can. The PUC rules that L.D. 1444 seeks to alter seem designed to discourage individuals and businesses from installing solar panels. Citizens should be encouraged to generate their own power, improve their energy security and advance the inevitable and necessary transition to a renewable energy future for Maine.

Republican-sponsored L.D. 1444 has bipartisan support. It will save Maine electricity users millions of dollars and allow time for the PUC to come up with a realistic and workable plan. It’s urgent that we contact our legislators and ask for their support of this bill.

Regis Tremblay