Maine’s Net Metering Ball In PUC’s Court

Following the failure of a bill to replace retail rate net metering with a market-based incentive system, an updated net metering policy in Maine remains to be determined.

UtilityDIVE provided this extremely accurate headline:

With Maine solar bill dead, industry waits on regulators for net metering reforms”

Yes, indeed! Everyone involved in the industry appears to be waiting for the next news.

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The solar bill, LD 1649, was designed grow solar from the state’s present 18 MW to 196 MW by 2021 by instituting a novel market-based incentive structure.

“Once the new program is in effect, net metering would be not be available to new customers, pending a program review after 18 months, or 21 MW of capacity is installed, whichever is sooner. At that time, the Commission will conduct a review to determine whether the residential and small business market segment is likely to meet its installation targets and reduce costs to all ratepayers. If not, and if the program cannot be revised to meet those goals, the Commission will report to the Legislature and if the Legislature does not otherwise take action, net metering will be reinstated.”

While this may seem like a sound perspective, the words now reside in the realm of the past-tense. To move forward, the state Public Utilities Commission must now evaluate the solar incentive platform and decide how to proceed.

“Gov. LePage’s veto letter said the bill would increase costs for Maine non-solar owners and that he had “tried to negotiate in good faith with Democrats.” House Majority Leader Sara Gideon (D) said failure to override the veto was a loss for Maine’s solar industry, job growth, and new investment.”

The PUC has not announced when it will consider the question.

Some installers in the state are said to be worried about  what comes next could be worse for the industry. ReVison Energy CEO Fortunat Mueller said its defeat may allow the commission to severely erode the net metering credit and make other changes that will impede solar.

Image via Shutterstock

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