August 20, 2018
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Bill to boost solar energy industry dies again in Maine House

Gabor Degre | BDN
Gabor Degre | BDN
Dillon Fitts of Insource Renewables gets some of the solar panels ready as they were getting installed on Thane Fremouw and Clarissa Henry’s home in Orono.
By Christopher Cousins, BDN Staff
Updated:

Another bill to encourage homeowners’ generation of solar power fell victim to opposition from Gov. Paul LePage on Tuesday, when the House of Representatives upheld his veto.

The end of LD 1444 has been days in the making. Last week, the House came within four votes, 97-52, of overriding LePage’s veto, prompting Democratic leaders to table the bill in an effort to garner more support. That didn’t work, and the House voted 96-50 Tuesday to reaffirm its previous decision.

The bill sought to implement gross metering in Maine and block electricity utility companies from taxing people who generate certain amounts of electricity on their own.

Rep. Seth Berry, D-Bowdoinham, who sponsored the bill, argued it is only a matter of time before Mainers demand the right to generate their own electricity without paying for it.

“Today we can vote to give Maine people a small piece of their own power, or we can vote to let Central Maine Power keep all of it,” Berry said during House debate.

Others said the bill would result in higher rates for everyone, which also is at the core of LePage’s opposition.

“It’s very difficult to imagine this bill is not a tax,” Rep. Beth O’Connor, R-Berwick, said. “This bill is not headed in the right direction.”

LePage argued in his veto letter that among other problems he sees, it would have nullified a Public Utilities Commission vote that will gradually step down the amount of generation allowed by private citizens.

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