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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 Solar (26)

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.

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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.

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Thursday
Jun162016

Maine PUC Opens New Proceeding to Explore Changes to Net Metering Rules

On Tuesday, the PUC opened a new docket (2016-00120) requesting comments from interested stakeholders about the future of net metering (also known as “net energy billing”). In January, CMP notified the Commission that in 2015 net metering resources had exceeded 1% of CMP’s peak demand, triggering PUC review under the rules. The PUC took no action on CMP’s petition while the Legislature debated LD 1649, a bill that would have replaced net metering with the “Standard Solar Buyer” model that emerged from the solar stakeholder process last fall. That bill failed to overcome Governor LePage’s veto at the end of the session. Now the PUC will decide whether to act on its own to make changes to Maine’s net metering rules.

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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.

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Tuesday
Mar152016

Maine Solar Bill Proposes to Expand Capacity Without Net Metering

On March 10, the Maine Legislature’s Energy, Utilities & Technology Committee reported out a bill that is the culmination of the solar stakeholder process at the Public Utilities Commission (PUC). The bill sets a target of developing 248 MW of new solar capacity over a five-year period beginning in 2017. The bill defines four categories of solar power development in Maine: grid-scale, large-scale community, commercial and industrial, and residential and small business.

As previously explained here, the most controversial aspect of the new legislation is that it would end net metering (AKA “net energy billing”) for rooftop solar. During the solar stakeholder process at the PUC, a compromise consensus emerged among the utilities, the solar industry, environmental groups, and the Office of the Public Advocate, which represents ratepayers in Maine.

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Wednesday
Dec302015

Beyond Net Metering: Solar Stakeholders Seek Common Ground

Since September, solar stakeholders have been participating in regular work sessions at the Maine Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to develop an alternative to Maine’s current net metering rules. Net metering or “net energy billing” allows utility customers who also generate some of their own power (with solar panels, for example) to pay only for the difference between the energy they generate and the energy they consume. This straightforward concept exists in some form in more than 40 states. But as rooftop solar continues to expand, utilities are beginning to seek alternatives to net metering rules around the country.

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Friday
Dec112015

Large-Scale Solar Having Its Moment in the Sun

Last week the Portland Press Herald reported that the Maine Public Utilities Commission will direct Maine’s transmission and distribution utilities to enter into a long-term contract with Dirigo Solar for the construction of up to 75 MW of new solar installations across the state.

The Commission was especially pleased with the price offered by Dirigo. According to a term sheet filed with the Commission last month, the price will be $35/MWh for all of the energy and capacity benefits generated by the solar projects. The price will increase by 2.5% annually over a total term of 20 years. These terms compare very favorably with other long-term renewable contracts approved by the Commission.

Earlier this year, for example, the Commission approved a 25-year contract for the Highland Wind project at a price of $43.80/MWh with the same annual 2.5% increase. Although the Highland Wind contract included other provisions that make an apples-to-apples comparison difficult, $35/MWh is nevertheless an impressive price for solar.

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