Solar Project Uncertainty Reigns In Maine Following Gubernatorial Veto

Following a recent gubernatorial veto on a solar bill, the Portland Press Herald has reported large-scale solar generation projects are being reviewed or delayed because legislation to make them more financially viable is absent.

Maine lobster shutterstock_194616140Maine Governor Paul LePage’s decision to veto a solar bill, L.D. 1649, which would have increased the amount of solar-generated electricity in Maine from 18 megawatts to 250 megawatts in five years and replaced energy credits with long-term contracts, has impeded numerous municipal plans for solar electricity generation.

The newspaper reports a number of Maine towns and cities are reconsidering plans to develop large-scale solar energy projects as a result of the vetoed legislation. The bill was endorsed by solar developers, Maine’s utility companies, environmentalists and others, but it was still vetoed by LePage – who stated that the bill would increase the cost of electricity for other ratepayers.

The legislation was taken off the table last month after the Maine House of Representative fell two votes shy of the two-thirds majority necessary to reverse LePage’s veto.

Municipality plans for solar electricity stalled

A number of communities, including Falmouth, Portland, South Portland, and Rockland, were planning to install PV devices atop capped landfills, using power from these sites to cut electricity costs.

The targeted landfill sites were expected to receive millions of dollars from private solar developers. They also needed the passage of the new bill in order to shift the way in which solar producers are remunerated for the electricity they generate.

A presentation by TRC Engineers regarding a planned PV landfill project in Cumberland County was canceled due to uncertainty with the state’s ruling.

Maine’s current state policy on net metering limits the size of installations eligible for credits to 660 kW and only permits solar farms to feed 10 meters at a time. The vetoed solar bill would have amended those regulations in an effort to boost the amount of PV-generated electricity in Maine from 18 MW to 250 MW in five years.

The Maine Public Utilities Commission is said to be moving forward with a separate review of the state’s net metering policy.

Meanwhile, however, numerous proposed solar projects have been halted.

Fresh Maine lobster sign via Shutterstock

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