Testimony: Halting Solar Subsidies & Studying Impacts
Testimony in Support of LD 1531: “Resolve, to Implement a 4-year Moratorium on Solar Energy Subsidies and Direct the Department of Environmental Protection to Study the Economic Impact of Industrial Solar Energy Projects”
Senator Lawrence, Representative Zeigler, and the distinguished members of the Committee on Energy, Utilities and Technology, my name is Nick Murray and I serve as director of policy for Maine Policy Institute. We are a free market think tank, a nonpartisan, non-profit organization that advocates for individual liberty and economic freedom in Maine. Thank you for the opportunity to testify on LD 1531.
This bill is urgently necessary, especially in the wake of a recent Bangor Daily News article exposing how much Maine ratepayers are being hosed by the governor’s “community solar” incentives. OPA estimates that, if all 750 community solar farms under development are completed in the next year or two, Maine ratepayers will be on the hook for more than $270 million, or $330 per year for the average customer of CMP or Versant.
This is on top of staggering, historic yearly rises in Mainers’ electricity prices, two years in a row. We share a grid with the rest of New England (ISO-NE), and our region pays the highest for electricity (all sectors) in the nation, outside of California. While the national monthly average price for power in 2022 was 12.4 cents per kilowatt-hour, that figure in New England is 20.6 cents/kWh, 66% more expensive. This is unsustainable.
It is often claimed that our region’s expensive electricity is a result of the winter cold climate, but this is not the case considering that other high-latitude states across the midwest and plains contend with an average all-sector price of electricity 45% cheaper than the New England average price.
The fact is, our policies incentivizing inefficient energy generation sources—like solar power—are to blame for our region’s crippling energy costs.
Even Phil Bartlett, PUC chair and former Maine Democratic Party operative noted that community solar “a regressive way of funding public policy.” Opponents of net metering warned of this reality. Now that it has come to pass, will we learn from our mistakes?
To stabilize this issue, this legislature should pass LD 1531 and install an immediate moratorium on all types of solar subsidies. Mainers should have an opportunity to objectively assess the costs, after a previous legislature jumped feet-first into this misguided policy, and decide whether continuing on the same path is prudent.
Please deem LD 1531 “Ought To Pass” to provide relief to ratepayers, and provide time to determine the efficacy of community solar programs and other giveaways to inefficient “green energy” technologies. Thank you for your time and consideration.