The Ups and Downs of Maine’s Solar Industry

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workers installing solar panels image courtesy of Natural Resources Council of MaineThe news on Maine’s solar industry is mixed these days and shows no sign of settling on a clear trajectory, at least this week. While we like to think of Maine’s solar star as rising steadily, some impediments are slowing it down, at best.

DOWN

In July of 2016, a report came out by the Environment Maine Research and Policy Center which showed that Maine lags behind 4 of the 6 New England states for cumulative solar capacity, despite having both the technological and solar resources to outshine our neighbors.

"The question is: will Maine capitalize on the growing clean energy economy with more clean energy and more local jobs, or will we fall further behind?" Owen Mansfield, campaign organizer with Environment Maine, said in a released statement. "We've got plenty of sunshine but we need leadership at all levels with a commitment to clean energy policies."

UP

Limestone, Maine may be home to the largest singe solar power plant in New England if plans to through for a 100,000-panel array on 600 acres at the site of the former Loring Air Force Base. The plant would produce up to 100 megawatts of power, according to a report from the Bangor Daily News.

Aaron Svedlow of Ranger Solar is quoted as saying that if the project is permitted, "We feel this project is a great fit for Loring Commerce Centre, as it will utilize previously impacted lands and does not conflict with other uses of the property”. 

DOWN

As we reported last month, Maine’s Public Utilities Commission (MPUC) is considering changes to the net metering rules that make grid-tied solar power economically feasible for Maine ratepayers.

The proposed rule changes would gradually phase out many of the benefits of net metering over the next 15 years. Advocates such as the Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM) refer to the proposal as “gutting” the present net metering policy.

NRCM is inviting the public to attend a public hearing on this proposal on Monday, October 17 in Hallowell (see our calendar listing). The public comment period on the proposed rule changes ends on November 2.

Image credit: NRCM.

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