Solar bill well-crafted
I have worked in the solar energy field since 2009, and I have seen how many barriers exist to clean energy development. Maine is among the last states for installed solar energy capacity and jobs, and we are missing out on the economic benefits of solar power. High-quality jobs are created by keeping our energy dollars close to home.
A new bipartisan bill, LD 1711, would boost the development of 400 megawatts of distributed solar energy capacity by 2024, benefiting residential, commercial, municipal and industrial consumers. This bill will allow solar energy to help reduce rates for all Mainers and remove existing hurdles to solar energy development through several approaches, including large-scale shared community solar farms.
Many seniors, renters and low- to moderate-income people are missing out on the benefits of solar energy. Community solar farms create equal access for people that cannot otherwise use solar electricity. LD 1711 would make community solar farms available to all consumers by lifting the arbitrary nine-participant cap to 200. These solar farms allow a subscription model for purchasing solar electricity, lowering individual costs by sharing it among many.
State policies play an enormous role in solar energy deployment by helping to create competitive markets for innovative energy technologies. LD 1711 is a well-crafted bill that would help Maine catch up with our current and future energy needs.
No to Nordic Aquafarms
Belfast once had its waters polluted by chicken processing waste. Now, the Nordic Aquafarms salmon farm threatens to return Belfast to its not-so-forgotten past. The Nordic Aquafarms salmon farm should not be built in Belfast because of its environmental impacts that could pollute Penobscot Bay and threaten coastal fisheries.
The land-based salmon farm does promise big economic incentives for Belfast, that is undeniable. It would create jobs in the town and diversify Maine’s coastal economy in a way that might cushion against the state’s reliance on dwindling lobster fisheries. But at what cost? The farm would be one of the world’s largest Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO) for land-based salmon, and would dump millions of gallons of treated wastewater into Penobscot Bay, eerily reminiscent of the town’s old chicken processing pollution. Bringing this industry into Belfast could result in the destruction of the industry that coastal Maine already depends on by damaging its waters and ecosystems. The farm could also place a heavy burden on local aquifers to supply freshwater, straining the local watershed and all its wells and reservoirs.
Thus, while Nordic Aquafarms presents an opportunity for Belfast, it also presents potential ecological damage that Maine simply cannot afford. In many ways, this issue relates to the CMP transmission line proposal, which promises economic boons at a heavy cost to the natural resources that support Maine’s communities. The loss of our land and waters is too high a price to pay, and for that reason Belfast must say no to Nordic Aquafarms.
I have many questions regarding the power line to Boston, also known as the Central Maine Power corridor.
Would it be a true gain in green power use? I’ve read debate about whether Hydro-Quebec currently (no pun intended) sells its maximum production. If power is sold to Massachusetts, those now buying that power may have to buy it elsewhere — “elsewhere” possibly meaning coal-produced power. How is there a green gain in this deal?
How wide would the right-of-way be, and how many trout streams would it cross? I envision a very wide opening with the overhanging trees gone from the legally-required no-cut zone around the brooks. No shade means heat from the sun. Trout don’t like warm water.
How many times will it cross the Appalachian Trail? Coming upon this wide clearing where you probably can see for miles each way might be a welcome break for wilderness hikers but, then again, maybe not.
Consider this: Those of us who live in the “northern wilderness” know it is an illusion — but most tourists do not. Tourists, love them or hate them, are our economic lifeblood up here.
We need a truly independent study committee made up of “dogs in the fight” to make a recommendation in this matter.