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, L.D. 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 to 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

Sundog Solar

Searsport


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