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PUC Study: Solar Power Delivers Economic Return

Susan Sharon
A solar array at Mt. Abram.

AUGUSTA, Maine - A new study by the Maine Public Utilities Commission confirms what environmental groups have been saying for some time:  Solar power delivers a powerful economic and environmental return on investment.

Dylan Voorhees, clean energy director of the Natural Resources Council of Maine says it was a complicated analysis.

"They looked at every kilowatt hour of solar that we would get from somebody putting solar panels on their home or their business and feeding that into the Maine grid," Voorhees says, "and they tried to really count up and monetize all of the different values and benefits of that, and any costs that would be associated with doing that on the electric grid."

And what they found is that the total value of solar power produced in Maine is 33 cents per kilowatt hour. That value includes reduced electricity prices, less climate pollution and less need to build more power plants.

But, says Voorhees, customers who put solar panels on their roofs only receive a credit on their bill worth about 13 cents a kilowatt hour and he says that's a disincentive for customers in the solar market.

"All of the other New England states actually have specific state policies that encourage people to put solar on their home and their businesses and Maine does not," he says.

The job creation benefits of solar were not part of the study, but Voorhees says other studies have found that every megawatt of solar power installed creates one or two direct jobs.