Maine solar power bill passes legislative committee
- Maine's landmark bill to replace net metering and expand solar passed a legislative committee earlier this week and was sent to the House of Representatives, the Portland Press Herald reports.
- The bill was passed out of committee by a vote of 7-5, which was backed by the Democrats but opposed by the Republicans. The state House will take it up next, but it faces opposition by Maine's Republican leadership and Gov. Paul LePage (R), which means it will likely be vetoed unless it garners the two-thirds votes necessary to override it, the news outlet reports.
- If the bill fails to pass, Maine's Public Utilities Commission will take up the case and decide the net metering policy, which worries Democratis who fear they will reduce the retail rate credit and potentially impose fixed or demand charges.
Maine's solar legislation grew out of two pressing issues: How to continue after Central Maine Power (CMP) the dominant utility in the state, hits the looming 1% of peak load net metering cap, and how to properly value solar.
The bill appears to keep with a trend of states looking to roll back or replace their retail rate net metering programs. Under the new bill, Central Maine Power (CMP) and Emera, Maine’s regulated utilities, would purchase and aggregate solar generation from private solar owners and utility-scale developers under long term contracts. They would then bid the generation into New England electricity markets in one of the first such fleet aggregations of smaller scale solar.