Maine’s Public Utilities Commission (MPUC) has created a rule, due to take effect in 2018, which would tax solar customers on electricity they generate and use at their homes before it ever reaches the grid. This is like giving the grocery store the right to charge you for tomatoes you grow yourself, since you’re not buying their tomatoes.
Not only is this rule unfair, but it’s expensive – if the MPUC rule is allowed to take effect, it will cost $2,000,000 to all Maine ratepayers on Day 1 of the rule, who will be forced to pay for additional equipment that the utility companies will install to charge solar customers, and upgrades to utility company computer systems to handle the new charges… Over the life of the solar tax, the cost could be as high as $20,000,000!
Whether you have solar or not, you will lose if the MPUC rule takes effect. The $2,000,000 price tag to activate the new solar tax will be picked up by you, the person who pays an electric bill.
The only way to stop the rule is for the Maine Legislature to vote YES now for LD1504, an act which pauses implementation of the new MPUC rule and keeps existing net metering solar policy in place, while promoting a thoughtful, gradual and evidence based transition to a long term policy that promotes distributed energy resources and sends accurate and granular market price signals to customers of all types.
Moving Backwards, Not Forwards
The MPUC’s rule-change is bad for Maine ratepayers, bad for Maine consumers, bad for Maine’s solar industry.
Maine’s solar industry doesn’t want subsidies or hand-outs. The industry wants to compete in a free market, but instead, the MPUC has created a rule that puts the thumbs on the scale and ensures more profits for utility companies, at the expense of everyone who pays for an electric bill.
Tell Your Legislators to Pass LD1504 and STOP the MPUC Rule
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Frequently Asked Questions
Why go solar?
Solar is GREAT for Maine:
- There are over 500 solar jobs in Maine – a growth of 73% from just a year ago! While this progress is great, Maine lags far behind neighboring states in creating high-paying local solar jobs.
- Every year Mainers export $5 billion from the local economy to import fossil fuels from away. By investing in local solar infrastructure, we create good-paying jobs for Mainers, we keep our money in the local economy and we increase our energy security.
- The cost to install solar has dropped by more than 75% over the last 10 years, creating a practical investment opportunity for all Mainers who want to save money and protect Maine’s pristine natural environment. But Mainers are holding off on these investments due to lack of clear policy signals out of Augusta for the past six years.
How Did the MPUC Come Up With this Rule?
Ignoring its own Value of Solar study and the directive of the legislature to develop policy to accelerate solar energy investments and projects in Maine, the Maine Public Utilities Commission has proposed a set of rules on net energy metering which would effectively bring a halt to an industry which is growing faster than any other sector of our economy. 1 in 17 jobs created last year was a solar job!
Last year, an unprecedented coalition including solar installers, environmental groups, faith groups, labor groups, the Public Advocates Office, and Maine’s two utilities – CMP and Emera – united behind a comprehensive solar policy bill that ultimately failed to override Governor Paul LePage’s veto by only two votes.
That fateful turn set the fate of solar policy in Maine over to the unelected appointees of the Governor at the Public Utilities Commission. That Commission ignored the findings of their own report and has proposed a set of rules that would be disastrous to solar in Maine.
Legislators last year were reluctant to pass solar policy that would restore Maine’s leadership role in the region by uniting the interests of solar installers and the utility companies. Now, the least the Legislature can do is fix the PUC’s mistakes so that solar installers in Maine can compete in a stable policy environment and concentrate on growing their businesses instead of worrying about meddling from the Government.
Who Supports the PUC Rule?
Are you seeing Facebook Ads about how ‘Maine consumers’ support the PUC Rule? Chances are, you’re seeing the influence of out-of-state front groups paid for by utility lobbyists (Edison Electric Institute) or fossil fuel interests (the so-called “Consumer Energy Alliance”).
See reporting on the power players by Maine Public: http://mainepublic.org/post/powerful-interests-shaping-fate-maines-solar-industry
What’s so Good About Solar?
Solar panels are solid state equipment that will last through 40+ of the roughest winters Maine can throw at them. They will continue to crank out electricity which can be used for powering appliances, heating homes, making hot water, even driving around! Unlike most forms of energy, solar panels are available to anyone who wants to put them on their roof, allowing just about anyone to lock in a rate for power that is less than what they’d pay the utility company.
Solar has come down in price by 74% over the last seven years, and is growing by leaps and bounds. The solar industry is only asking for solar policy that takes away arbitrary rules that slow down solar’s growth, and allows solar to compete fairly in the marketplace.
Does solar work in Maine?
YES. Actually, cold weather makes solar panels work better, and we have plenty of that! A solar panel installed in Maine will produce almost as much solar power in a year as the same solar panel in Austin, Texas, even accounting for snow. Even more important, since we have no native coal, gas, or oil, our electricity is relatively expensive, meaning solar offsets our more expensive energy and is thus more valuable in Maine than in Texas.