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DISCLAIMER: This blog is published for general information only - it is not intended to constitute legal advice and cannot be relied upon by any person as legal advice. While we welcome you to contact our authors, the submission of a comment or question does not create an attorney-client relationship between the Firm and you.

Entries in Maine PUC (44)

Monday
Nov072016

Maine PUC Proposes Net Metering Rule Changes

The PUC has issued a proposed rule that would change Maine’s net metering compensation for rooftop solar (and other distributed generation). Under Maine’s current rule, customers that generate power are given a credit equal to the full retail rate of electricity.

The proposed rule would gradually reduce the portion of a generating customer’s electric bill that the customer is able to “net” against, and, over time, require the customer to pay a higher portion of their bill, regardless of how much energy the customer generates and delivers to the grid.

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Jul262016

Not Just for Rooftops: A Look at Community Solar in Maine

Much of the discussion around solar policy focuses on rooftop solar. While rooftop solar is an option for certain homeowners with suitable rooftops and some extra cash in the bank (or the ability to obtain financing), rooftop solar is not available to a large segment of the population. Community solar offers the possibility of making solar panels accessible to a much larger group of interested investors. Because transaction costs and other “soft costs” make up a large portion of solar energy projects, community solar benefits from greater efficiencies and could reduce the payback period compared to smaller, single-owner projects.

Although Maine’s community solar capacity has been slow to take off, since 2014 community solar farms have begun to crop up around the state. Several large projects are currently in the works, including a large project in China, Maine scheduled for completion this fall.

Below is an overview of how community solar works in Maine.

Click to read more ...

Friday
Jun242016

Seeking Competition Among the Uncompetitive: Maine PUC Must Define “Competitive” in Biomass Subsidy Proceeding

What makes a competitive bidding process “competitive”? The Maine PUC is currently grappling with this question in Docket No. 2016-00084 in which it is tasked with awarding contracts for up to 80MW of biomass generation. Under a new law, P.L. 2015, ch. 483, the PUC must solicit bids from eligible biomass resources. Lawmakers passed the bill to support Maine’s forest products industry, which has suffered as a result of a string of mill closures in recent years. Under the law, the PUC may enter into “above-market” contracts with biomass generators and pay for the above-market costs from special revenue funds to shield ratepayers from higher energy costs that would result from the contracts. The law is designed to help loggers and other forest service employees that rely on biomass generators, which are struggling to compete against low oil and gas prices.

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Friday
May272016

Maine PUC Opens Proceeding to Distribute RGGI Funds to Large Energy Consumers

The Maine Public Utilities Commission recently opened a new docket, 2016-00081, to process refunds to energy intensive manufacturers in Maine out of the fund created by the carbon cap and trade program under the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).

Maine is one of nine New England/Mid-Atlantic states that participate in RGGI. Under the program, CO2 is capped in the participating states and fossil-fuel generators in those states are required to purchase emissions allowances to offset their emissions. In Maine, the money raised from the sale of emissions allowances has been used to fund Efficiency Maine, which promotes energy efficiency for Maine business and residential consumers.

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Thursday
May052016

After Solar Bill Fails to Muster Veto-Proof Support, PUC Will Decide Fate of Net Metering 

Last Friday, the Maine House came within two votes of overriding Governor LePage’s veto of LD 1649, a bill that would have substantially increased installed solar capacity in Maine. The Senate had previously voted unanimously to override the veto. The bill would have sought to increase solar capacity nearly tenfold in Maine, from 20 MW to 196 MW in 2021. The bill would have phased out net metering in favor of a system of long-term contracts for rooftop solar and provided similar long-term contracts for community and large-scale solar installations.

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Oct032013

OPEGA Report Analyzes Processes at Maine PUC

The Maine Public Utilities Commission was recently the subject of a report (click link to download PDF) issued by a state government oversight office.  The report recognizes some strengths and recommends improvements to processes at the PUC, particularly for the benefit of utility customers.

The Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability, an agency that reports to the Government Oversight Committee of the Legislature, issued its report on the Maine PUC in September.  OPEGA’s report found that the PUC’s Consumer Assistance Division has a strong customer focus and is responsive to customers.  CAD could improve by taking steps to recognize trends in contacts with that office to determine whether a broader action needs to be taken to respond to issues potentially affecting multiple customers. 

The report also found that adjudicatory proceedings at the PUC can be difficult to navigate for individual customers who are intervenors or interested parties and not represented by counsel.  OPEGA recommended that the PUC clarify the many ways that consumers’ input may be used in decision-making, and continue to improve the agency’s online case management system to make the portal more user-friendly.

The Legislature created OPEGA in 2003 to perform independent reviews of agencies and programs of state government.  OPEGA began operating in January 2005.  Other OPEGA reports are available here.

Monday
Sep232013

Natural Gas Conference, Featuring Maine Gov. Paul LePage, to Be Held in Portland on October 10

On October 10, Verrill Dana, LLP and Pierce Atwood, LLP will co-host “Natural Gas: The Best Path Forward for Maine?” at the Doubletree by Hilton in Portland, Me.  The conference will feature Gov. Paul R. LePage as luncheon speaker and Maine PUC Chairman Thomas Welch as opening keynote speaker.  Panels will feature regional industry leaders from the regulatory, supply, LDC, generator, and commercial and industrial customer worlds discussing perspectives on topics ranging from natural gas service RFPs to LNG/CNG to natural gas supply issues in New England.  A cocktail reception will follow.

For more information, or to register, visit halfmoonseminars.com.