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I was disappointed to read Fortunat Mueller’s guest column in the Feb. 4 BDN in response to the excellent BDN climate reporter Mehr Sher’s article concerning equity in Maine solar energy policy. In the words of William Harwood, Maine’s public advocate for utility customers: “It is inequitable. The program disproportionately hurts low-income people who aren’t participating in community solar.”
Instead of addressing the equity issues, Mueller repeated talking points like “Maine-made solar power is saving Mainers money.” And “Maine-made solar power is playing an important role in our fight against climate change.”
There are significant equity issues with residential and community solar projects. While wealthier individuals who own or subscribe benefit from solar, Mainers who can’t afford solar pay to maintain the electricity distribution system. Other states have also grappled with these issues, and the National Resources Defense Council supported California’s recent reduction in solar subsidies.
I agree with Mueller that solar and other renewables are essential elements to combat climate change and benefit Mainers. However, to gloss over substantial equity issues doesn’t advance our understanding or get us closer to developing a fairer energy system.