- Lawmakers in Maine's House and Senate are crafting legislation to preserve retail net metering, at least temporarily, after the Public Utilities Commission approved new limits earlier this year that will eventually phase out the solar billing system, going into force in 2018.
- Portland Press Herald reports two bills are being crafted: one to fully save retail net metering and another to reinstate it while regulators examine how advanced metering can help better determine the costs and benefits of rooftop solar. Neither of the bills described by the Press Herald has been finalized, and both are subject to changes.
- The state's net metering debate has been fraught with debate with regulators, industry and the state's chief executive all in disagreement.
Details are emerging to how solar advocates will approach the next phase of Maine's net metering debate. Last month, the Natural Resources Council of Maine vowed to continue fighting new net metering restrictions, and now the broad outlines of legislative approaches is on the table.
According to the Press Herald, a bill in the Maine House will reinstate full net metering benefits, as well as including some solar incentives. That bill is being backed by Maine Environmental Priorities Coalition. In the Senate, the solar industry is supporting a bill that would preserve net metering while the Public Utilities Commission determines how advanced metering can help better value solar energy.
In January, the PUC made changes to the state's net metering policies, grandfathering an existing customer's rate for 15 years but gradually reducing new customer incentives each year. The attempt to find middle ground with a gradual phase-out angered Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R), who is an opponent of net metering and said he'd like to see all the regulators replaced over the decision.
Following the decision, Natural Resources Council of Maine Clean Energy Director Dylan Voorhees said the decision was “a roll-back of the one thing that is sustaining some amount of a solar market in the state.”
Under the PSC's January decision, solar customers who sign up after January 1, 2018 will see their transmission and distribution credit of the bill will decline over a 10-year span, but still receive a full credit for the supply side. For example, a customer who signs up in the first year of this policy will receive the fully supply credit and 90% of the transmission and distribution credit locked in for 15 years.