Editorial by Rep. Deane Rykerson- Rykerson from Kittery serves on the Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee.
LePage squanders jobs, environmental benefits, savings for Maine families and businesses
When it comes to solar, the future is here. There’s so much opportunity for Maine, but we’re missing out because of opposition from our governor, Paul LePage, and his die-hard allies. We’re missing out on jobs, on energy savings for families and businesses and on a cleaner environment.
In 1963, my solar energy project won first place in my eighth-grade science fair. There was no economical way then to convert the free and abundant power of sunlight into electricity. Solar cells were for satellites or experiments. Their availability for everyday people and businesses seemed far away.
Governor, it’s now 2016 – not 1963 anymore. Solar technology has advanced and prices are way down. We should be installing more solar and creating jobs. Without a comprehensive policy, we’re not going to be able to seize the opportunities or even catch up to the rest of the country.
This year, the governor and enough of his House Republican friends killed the bipartisan solar plan supported by the electric utilities that would have finally brought our policies into the 21st century.
They threw away over 600 new jobs and put our 300 existing homegrown solar jobs at risk. They threw away $58 million to $110 million in savings for ratepayers. They threw away energy savings for Maine families and businesses, including agriculture.
The governor keeps talking about energy policies that simply aren’t real solutions.
There’s hydropower from Quebec for one. The thing he leaves out is that Quebec is never going to sell us power at the subsidized Canadian rate. It’s in their law. And you can’t get that power from there to here without building new transmission lines. Vermont has learned that Canadian hydro is not a money saver. They’re buying power from Quebec and they have consistently higher electric rates than Maine.
Meanwhile, we know that the value of solar generation in Maine is more than two-and-half times the retail rate of electricity – and that’s not even including the jobs created.
Solar generation is free after the initial investment. It saves us from paying for transmission power loss or building new dirty generation and power lines. It reduces pollutants and the health costs associated with them.
And we keep our money in the state.
As a frugal Yankee, I don’t want to pay overseas conglomerates to burn oil and gas for my electricity when I can make it freely and cleanly on my garage roof – all while supporting Maine workers.
On these hot summer days, I think about all the money I’m saving. This is when the grid has the most demand and electricity is the most expensive. Solar saves money for everyone using electrical power.
It’s time to embrace solar and all it can do for Maine. It is the way forward.