It appears The Society of Friends is friends to solar – and its members are willing to put their bodies on the line to prove it.
Yesterday, reports out of Maine say a group called Quakers Meetings, in conjunction with an organization called Speak Truth To CMP (Central Maine Power) gathered at the utility’s headquarters to protest what they said is CMP’s attempts to undermine solar power generation in the state.
Four people were arrested at the site after trying to enter the lobby of the headquarters, according to a report by Colin Ellis, a staff writer for centralmaine.com. CMP says it keeps this lobby closed to protect the employees from being harassed or harmed.
Solar policy – particularly net metering – has been a contentious battle under the leadership of Gov. Paul LePage, who has repeated the oft-cited but technically unsound claim that solar consumers are mooching off non-solar customers by not paying for grid upkeep.
The zombie argument continues to be used by utilities around the country as they try to modify or eliminate net metering, under which solar consumers are compensated for the excess electricity they export back to the grid from their arrays.
National and state-level studies – particularly a study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory – have found that while costs can shift slightly under net metering, but only if solar penetration in an area is more than 10%. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, Maine currently receives 0.29% of its electricity from solar sources.
Nearly one year to the day after the Maine Public Utilities Commission (MUPC) issued its “final” ruling on the state’s net-metering structure, which guarantees net-metering rates will remain at the current retail rate for the next 15 years and then decline by 10% per year, the net metering changes have still not been implemented.
Currently, implementation of the new rules is planned for May, but lawsuits are currently working their way through the courts to stop implementation entirely.