Maine fights to preserve net metering

Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn
Reddit
Email
Maine's solar supporters have petitioned the PUC to amend its NEM decision, with lawmakers devising bills to reinstate retail rates. Source: Flickr/Terry Ross

Lawmakers and solar supporters in Maine have united to fight a widely criticised decision by the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to phase out retail net metering by 2018.

In February, the PUC ruled that existing solar users and anyone who installed solar before 1 January 2018, for the next 15 years, would be grandfathered and still receive the retail rate for their electricity. However, after that date, the price of energy credits would be reduced by 10% every year, until the wholesale rate was reached.

This article requires Premium SubscriptionBasic (FREE) Subscription

Unlock unlimited access for 12 whole months of distinctive global analysis

Photovoltaics International is now included.

  • Regular insight and analysis of the industry’s biggest developments
  • In-depth interviews with the industry’s leading figures
  • Unlimited digital access to the PV Tech Power journal catalogue
  • Unlimited digital access to the Photovoltaics International journal catalogue
  • Access to more than 1,000 technical papers
  • Discounts on Solar Media’s portfolio of events, in-person and virtual

Or continue reading this article for free

In response, lawmakers in the House and Senate are writing legislation to enhance solar incentives, with the aim to ultimately supersede the PUC’s unpopular decision.

Specifically, two bills are pending and with subject to change. One, sponsored by representative Seth Barry, would preserve retail net metering and offer solar rebates to the sum of US$8 million, stepping down over time. The second bill will be sponsored by senator Tom Saveiello and also aims to preserve retail net metering; but only in the absence of PUC findings on how to use smart electric meters to calculate the fluctuating value of solar energy. In addition to these pending bills, legislators have penned other proposals to enhance Maine’s residential solar industry, including designs to expand community solar.

“There’s so much more at stake if we fail this year,” Berry said to the local Press Herald. “What the PUC did really forced the Legislature to put up or shut up.”

Governor Paul LePage

Last year, state governor Paul LePage vetoed a bill that would have replaced electricity credits with long-term contracts for solar power. LePage peddled the argument that solar users shift an unfair burden on their non-solar counterparts; sparking debate whether the solar credits bestowed were too generous.

Whilst there is legislation in the work to combat LePage and the PUC, any new law would require approval from Republican legislators – many of whom sided with the governor in his anti-net metering decision last year. 

Petition

Maine’s solar industry has shown its support for net metering, by filing a petition yesterday with the PUC. Over 2,000 businesses, conservation and environmental groups signed the petition to ask the PUC to withdraw its decision and reinstate retail net metering.

“This decision by the PUC will take Maine in the wrong direction for a state that already is in last place in the region for solar power and solar jobs,” said signatory Dylan Voorhees, NRCM Climate & Clean Energy Director to local press.

If the PUC abstains from amending its decision, the fate of Maine’s residential solar industry lies solely in the hands of the lawmakers to override it.

21 May 2024
PV Tech has been running PV ModuleTech Conferences since 2017. PV ModuleTech USA, on 21-22 May 2024, will be our third PV ModulelTech conference dedicated to the U.S. utility scale solar sector. The event will gather the key stakeholders from solar developers, solar asset owners and investors, PV manufacturing, policy-making and and all interested downstream channels and third-party entities. The goal is simple: to map out the PV module supply channels to the U.S. out to 2025 and beyond.
8 October 2024
PV Tech has been running an annual PV CellTech Conference since 2016. PV CellTech USA, on 8-9 October 2024 is our second PV CellTech conference dedicated to the U.S. manufacturing sector. The event in 2023 was a sell out success and 2024 will once again gather the key stakeholders from PV manufacturing, equipment/materials, policy-making and strategy, capital equipment investment and all interested downstream channels and third-party entities. The goal is simple: to map out PV manufacturing in the U.S. out to 2030 and beyond.

Read Next

Subscribe to Newsletter

Upcoming Events

Solar Media Events
March 12, 2024
Frankfurt, Germany
Upcoming Webinars
March 13, 2024
9am EDT / 1pm GMT / 2pm CET
Solar Media Events
March 19, 2024
Texas, USA