Maine solar projects crippled following veto on key bill

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on reddit
Reddit
Share on email
Email
Despite a large amount of support, the new solar bill was vetoed by Maine Governor Paul LePage. Image: Terry Ross / Flickr

The fallout from Maine Governor Paul LePage’s decision to veto a bill that would replace electricity credits with long-term contracts for solar power is finally starting to take hold in the Pine Tree State.

According to the Portland Press Herald, a number of Maine towns and cities are reconsidering plans to develop large-scale solar energy projects as a result of the vetoed legislation.

Communities such as Falmouth, Portland, South Portland and Rockland were planning on constructing PV installations atop capped landfills – with power generated from the sites issued to municipal buildings, schools and streetlights in order to cut electricity costs.

While these landfill sites were expected to receive millions of dollars from private solar developers, they also needed the passage of the new bill in order to shift the way in which solar producers are paid for the electricity they generate.

A presentation by TRC Engineers regarding a planned PV landfill project in Cumberland County was cancelled last week due to uncertainty with the state’s ruling.

Maine’s current state policy on net metering limits the size of installations eligible for credits to 660kW and only permits solar farms to feed 10 meters at a time. The vetoed solar bill would have amended those regulations in an effort to boost the amount of PV-generated electricity in Maine from 18MW to 250MW in five years.

Not only would the new bill have replaced these credits with fixed-price contracts, it would have also increased the cap on PV projects to 2,000kW and cut the restriction of 10 meters per install.

The bill was endorsed by solar developers, Maine’s utility companies, environmentalists and others, but it was still vetoed by LePage – who stated that the bill would increase the cost of electricity for other ratepayers.

The legislation was taken off the table last month after the Maine House of Representative fell two votes shy of the two-thirds majority necessary to reverse LePage’s veto.

While the Maine Public Utilities Commission (PUC) is moving forward with a separate review of the state’s net metering policy, a slew of proposed solar projects have already been halted.

The town of Falmouth hoped to issue a solar array out to bid this summer and already researched engineering and feasibility studies for a solar farm that could produce up to 25% of the community’s power. The Press Herald reported that plans to develop the farm have been put on hold until the state rules are cleared up.

While Maine may lag behind other New England states when it comes to PV capacity, it still boasts plenty of potential. The Maine Municipal Association estimates that there are 728 hectares of capped landfills in the state. If 40% of that land was developed for solar, it could produce electricity equivalent to US$25 million in costs currently paid by towns and cities in bills. 

Read Next

April 14, 2021
Meyer Burger is on track to start shipments of its first heterojunction (HJ) solar modules made in Germany to distributors in July.
March 31, 2021
Danish renewables developer European Energy is expanding its operations into the US market, announcing plans for a 300MW solar project in Texas.
March 25, 2021
Thin-film laser systems equipment supplier LPKF Laser & Electronics suffered from delays in receiving new expected orders from two long-stand customers last year.
March 23, 2021
Lightsource bp has been selected to build, own and operate seven solar arrays in Pennsylvania that will provide nearly half of the state government’s electricity.
March 4, 2021
A round-up of the latest solar project news from around the world, including updates from Hanwha Q CELLS and Capital Dynamics.
March 1, 2021
Xcel Energy has announced plans to double its renewables and battery storage capacity in Colorado by 2030, as the utility progresses with efforts to reach 100% carbon-free electricity generation across its service area by 2050.

Subscribe to Newsletter

Upcoming Events

Solar Media Events
May 11, 2021
Upcoming Webinars
May 26, 2021
Session 1 - 7:00 AM (BST) | Session 2 - 5:00 PM (BST)
Solar Media Events
June 15, 2021
Solar Media Events
July 6, 2021