GrowSmart Maine Testifies in Support of LD 1686, Protect Maine’s Pro-Solar Policy

Testimony of Nancy Smith, Executive Director of GrowSmart Maine in support of LD 1686.

January 11, 2018

Senator Woodsome, Representative Berry and members of the Joint Standing Committee on Energy, Utilities and Technology, my name is Nancy Smith and I am the Executive Director of GrowSmart Maine and I live in Monmouth.

We are a statewide non-partisan, non-profit, membership-based organization working to create lasting prosperity without sacrificing the quality of life that defines Maine.

It should come as no surprise that we are supporting LD 1686. GrowSmart Maine has been a consistent supporter of solar energy as an important component of energy independence in Maine. With solar energy we can decrease our use of fossil fuels and keep more money in Maine while reducing carbon emissions that are creating issues such as sea level rise and more extreme weather events.  It’s a sensible strategy and one we need to get right, and soon.

GrowSmart Maine has offered testimony in favor of previous solar bills in Maine and remains committed to finding a solution to support solar energy going forward. Testimony in support of LD 1373 here. Testimony in support of LD 1649 here.

LD 1686 is a nuts-and-bolts bill that addresses three important issues.  I draw your attention to key points are outlined in the emergency preamble to the bill:

  •  Recent changes to the PUC rules penalize self-generation in a state that prides itself on innovation and self-reliance.
  • The series of changes and complexity of current rules are disruptive to consumers, solar producers and I’d argue to the utility companies as well.
  • Maine needs predictable and fair policy for distributed energy generation. This is smart growth.

Our arguments in support of the bill are these:

  • We should not require people to pay a transmission and deliver fee on power generated and used on site… because there is no transmission and delivery associated with that power.
  • By raising the ceiling on the number of owners in a community solar installation to 50, we are making solar power, with all its economic, environmental and community benefits, accessible to Mainers at what will likely be a lower cost, because investments are shared among more owners.  For those concerned that solar power is only for the wealthy, this change ensures that’s not the case.
  • Finally, by requiring the PUC to conduct an in-depth analysis with recommendations on how best to transition from our current net metering model to something better, we are setting the stage for a pricing policy that works for everyone, and for a long time.

Thank you for your time.  The Legislature came so close last year to passing meaningful legislation on solar power, we at GrowSmart Maine will continue to assist in any way that is helpful.