- Maine utility regulators this week held a hearing to discuss the future of net metering in the state, with a proposal on the table to slash incentive rates for both new and existing customers.
- Under a proposal being considered by the Public Utilities Commission, the state would phase out retail rate net metering over the next 15 years, grandfathering existing systems for that full period and new installations for just 10 years.
- The push to reduce net metering benefits is coming from the top down, with Maine Gov. Paul LePage a vocal critic of the clean energy credits who previously pushed a shorter grandfathering period.
Maine's net metering proceeding looks a lot like decisions in Nevada and Arizona, where the amount credited back to new and existing systems was cut. Like those contentious proceedings, PV-Tech reports the PUC proceeding "caused spectators to flood to Hallowell where the public meeting was held."
Local affiliate WABI TV reports a large crowd turned out, with many concerned about possible clean energy job losses if the incentives for solar panels are cut. But officials pushed back on that idea.
PUC Commission Harry Lanphear said at the hearing, "we are not proposing to eliminate all compensation for net metering. We are proposing a reduction that we do want feedback on and that’s why we are here today. We really want to listen to the public and we want to do the right thing that’s the most fair for all ratepayers.”
If approved, new net metering rates would be about half the retail rate.
Over the summer, Gov. LePage had a shorter, three-year grandfathering period. Lawmakers in the state have pushed back, saying a full look at solar resources is needed before decisions are made.
Rep. Sara Gideon said in a statement last month that the PUC’s "narrow focus on a single part of the broader solar policy doesn’t help our state’s ability to open new markets that create jobs and lower costs for homeowners, businesses and communities."