By Carol McCracken (Post # 2,351)
The Maine State Legislature voted today override Governor LePage’s veto of a Resolve aimed at developing a comprehensive solar policy for Maine. The vote, today was a bipartisan vote. The Maine House vote was 119-28 and the Senate vote was 32-3. LD 1263, sponsored by Rep. Sara Gideon, Freeport, was amended to become a Resolve with input from solar installers, electric utilities, the Public Advocate and environmental advocates led by Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM). The Resolve directs the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to set up an open stakeholder process to try to develop a solar incentive proposal that the Legislature could vote on next year. The goal is to establish a solar approach that will significantly increase solar in Maine in way that benefits all ratepayers according to a press release issued by NRCM.
“We are pleased that the Legislatujre voted overwhelmingly, and in a bipartisan way, to override Governor LePage’s veto of the solar Resolve,” said Dylan Voorhees, NRCM Clean Energy Director. “The Governor’s opposition to solar is now well established, but it was disappointing to see it extent so far as opposing solar advocates and utilities siting down to identify a consensus approach to expanding access to solar in Maine in a fair and effective way.”
“Maine has an enormous opportunity reap great benefits from solar power, but it is time for the state to catch up in taking advantage of this rapidly evolving technology,” said sponsor Rep. Sara Gideon, Freeport. “Making progress on solar will require diverse parties coming together to support real solutions. The legislature did that in a bipartisan way and now the parties and the PUC have a chance to continue that dialogue.”
Due to a lack of s solar policy, Maine is lagging behind states in the region and behind on solar and missing out on its many benefits, from reduced dependence on fossil fuels to cleaner air and lower electric rates. The solar Resolve creates a new opportunity for agreement between the utilities and solar advocates, using as a starting point an innovative approach proposed by the Public Advocate. It represents an avenue for progress on a comprehensive solar policy next hear, before federal solar tax credits set to expire at the end of 2016.
“The Public Advocate’s straw proposal is creative and shows important leadership that could bring parties together,” said Voorhees “However, refining it and agreeing on the details could make the difference between whether the outcome is a step forward or threatens to move us back.”
“Crafting a new and effective solar policy for Maine will take hard work and many months of discussion and negotiation and NRCM will be there at the table,” said Voorhees. “It bodes well that the legislature endorsed this process so strongly and didn’t let the Governor stop forward progress,”
Natural Resouces Council of Maine, 3 Wade Street, Augusta, ME 04330 www.NRCM.org