At April’s Woolwich Town Meeting, residents approved the Town’s purchase of a solar array to cover the Town’s electric bill. We are currently in the process of finalizing the contract with ReVision Energy. We’re putting the 80-panel array on the former landfill property.

I’m very pleased at the forward-looking step that Woolwich voters took, and I would be even more pleased if the Maine legislature votes to support solar energy as a viable and future-facing industry. The legislature has a good chance to reverse Governor LePage’s opposition to Maine solar policies and to stop the Public Utilities Commission’s flawed net metering rule from going into effect. LD 1504 is a thoughtful, bipartisan bill that, if passed, would provide some stability in the solar energy market short-term, while moving slowly in the long term to adjust pricing for solar customers and those without it.

More specifically, for Woolwich, this bill would lift the 9-person cap on community solar installations. Our closed landfill is the perfect spot for a community solar farm. Expanding the number of people who can invest in such a farm provides a greater likelihood that more people – some of whom either cannot afford an individual system or don’t have an ideal location – can take direct advantage of solar energy.

I’m puzzled by unsubstantiated charges that non-solar customers unfairly “subsidize” people with residential solar installations through higher electric bills. I deplore these efforts to reduce this important issue to a class divide, especially since the PUC’s own study concluded that solar customers actually subsidize other customers. I don’t have solar panels on my house, but support policies that incentivize more solar energy production. Mainers, especially those who fish or lobster where I live, are already seeing the effects of climate change.

In the energy industry, jobs in renewable technology are growing faster than any other. Maine absolutely needs to take advantage of that. States that support solar energy are well on their way to a future that doesn’t rely on market forces beyond our control, such as those that determine costs of nonrenewable fuels.

Let’s take control of our future. The Legislature passed a bipartisan solar bill last year with significant support but the Governor’s veto and bullying meant that it fell short of becoming law. We can’t let that happen again. Contact your state representatives and senators and tell them to support LD 1504.

Allison Hepler