Now that we’ve hit the reset button on solar policy by getting rid of gross metering, it’s time for practical, forward thinking advancements that will modernize Maine’s solar energy policies. We are all residents of the Town of Waldoboro, and are doing our best to help our community with a variety of economic development projects. Solar is a critical component of that.

We want to thank Senator Dana Dow for his ongoing leadership on solar, for continuing and strengthening the bipartisan support of solar, and for sponsoring An Act to Benefit Maine Consumers, Businesses, and Communities through Expanded Renewable Energy. Many residents in Maine and in Waldoboro are hopeful its prompt passage will lead to and incent projects contemplated or under way.

This bill would use market mechanisms and competitive bidding to promote small- and medium-scale solar installations for residents, municipalities, businesses, community solar farms and larger projects, to ensure solar a place in Maine’s renewable energy future to benefit Mainers at all income levels.

In Waldoboro, several interesting projects are at stake. This bill would allow us to move forward and capture the benefits of solar. For example, there is the potential for a 1- megawatt — perhaps even much larger — solar installation covering a five-acre tract on a vacant, former industrial site that will contribute significantly to consumer cost savings and, as well, mitigate tons of carbon emissions in years to come. The proposed project will add to the town’s tax base, benefiting all the town’s residents. One of the customers for the electrical power generated might be our schools. As an expanded solar farm, other potential beneficiaries could be mobile home parks and tenants of low-income housing projects, businesses, or nonprofits.

Maine’s largest industry is tourism, and we have a strong reputation for safeguarding our environment and our natural resources. As electric vehicles increasingly come on line, charging stations will sprout up, and Waldoboro is in a good position to be a central hub in the Route 1 corridor — with solar as the power source. Also, we have two Senators in Washington that can advocate in Congress to extend the federal solar tax credit. This year, 2019 is the last year for the full 30-percent federal solar tax credit that can be taken by both investors and homeowners. Extending this law at the 30-percent level is a high priority of solar advocates, so that solar power will continue to grow throughout our nation.

As Waldoboro residents, it is our hope that the Town’s emphasis on renewable energy will put us “on the map” as a great place to live, work, set up or expand various enterprises, as a town that cares about its energy future, sustainability, and protecting the Medomak River as a valued commercial fishery and aesthetic resource. And as citizens, we are also very concerned about global warming. The vast majority of the scientific community has put forth irrefutable evidence of its rising catastrophic effects on the planet, including coastal areas around the world, upsetting both the natural balances of the flora and fauna which inhabit our world, and severely impacting the poor who struggle for economic parity and security.

State leadership, headed up by lawmakers like Senator Dana Dow, is a critical part to moving forward, and joining in the national and global energy transition already under way. Leadership at the state level will encourage resolve at the federal and global levels — demonstrating that citizens can do something, take action, and join with millions internationally for the next generation and beyond who will be challenged to carry the burden of global warming, but also, create pathways to its solutions.

Ron Philips, Seth Hall, George Seaver, Jan Visser, Ted Wooster, Waldoboro’s Renewable Energy Subcommittee