Mainebiz New FeatureLast week’s Mainebiz showcased ReVision Energy as a high point in Maine’s economy even as the outlook remains challenging for many companies. Citing national figures that showed the solar energy industry expanded by 67% in 2010, Mainebiz pointed out that ReVision mirrored this trend by adding 10 full-time employees in a year’s time, with projections to grow by a similar rate in 2011.

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“Maine and New Hampshire are the two most oil-dependent states in New England per capita. And they have the highest CO2 emissions,” [ReVision Co-founder Phil] Coupe says, with 440,000 homeowners in Maine and 379,000 in New Hampshire heating their houses with oil. “We see a substantial market for renewable-energy solutions like solar hot water.”

ReVision performs more than 50% of the installations of solar hot-water and electric systems in Maine, according to Efficiency Maine. The company reported revenues of $6.5 million in 2009, and Coupe said that grew 5%-10% in 2010 …

A 2010 report by the Solar Energy Industries Association also points out the inconsistencies in growth across the country. “Even with spectacular growth, the U.S. market is slowed by the complexities of state-by-state differences in regulations, incentives, utilities and financing structures,” it states. Monique Hanis, the trade group’s spokeswoman, says the fastest-growing solar states last year — California, New Jersey, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Colorado and New York — all were helped by federal and state incentives.

… Dana Fischer, the residential program manager at Efficiency Maine, agrees that “there’s no question that other states have been more proactive on solar. Maine has limited rebates.” He says matters weren’t helped by a recent decision by the Legislature’s Energy and Utilities Committee to no longer fund a solar-energy rebate with a service utility charge on electric ratepayers’ bills. Fischer says that that surcharge amounted to an annual average of 32 cents per household.

Nonetheless, there are enough funds to finance solar rebates for up to two years at current rates before the agency needs to find a new source of revenue. “But there is no chance of increasing rebate programs to match what other states have currently,” Fischer says.

Read the full article over at Mainebiz