A  measure sponsored by Democratic Senator Eloise Vitelli of Arrowsic to expand the use of solar energy in Maine will go into effect on Friday.

“This new law will give us the state’s first roadmap for developing plentiful and cost-effective energy for homeowners and businesses alike,” said Senator Vitelli, the sponsor of the bill. “The sun is the most abundant source of energy we have, and we would do well to take advantage of it.”

The bill directs the Public Utilities Commission to take specific measures regarding solar energy by conducting a two-part study to develop a methodology for determining the value of solar energy generated and then apply that methodology to the available information on solar power.

Maine spends $5 billion per year importing fossil fuels and is the most petroleum-dependent state for home heating, with more than 70% of households using it as their primary heating source.According to a 2010 report, rooftop solar panels alone could provide 24% of Maine’s electricity.

“We need to do more to lower energy costs for homeowners and business-owners, and increasing access to solar energy is a great step forward,” said Senator Jim Boyle of Gorham, a cosponsor of the bill.

The PUC will report its findings back to the Energy, Utilities, and Technology Committee by February 15, 2015.

The text of the new law can be found here.

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