Maine’s PUC Proposes New Tax on Solar Production
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Ignoring its own Value of Solar study and the directive of the legislature to develop policy to accelerate solar energy investments and projects in Maine, the Maine Pubilic Utilities Commission has proposed a draft set of rules on net energy metering which would significantly weaken the economics of solar investments and slow down rather than accelerate the construction of solar projects. This proposal is clear evidence that the PUC is the wrong authority to be creating solar policy because the draft rules are not only unworkable, but also likely illegal and undeniably move Maine’s solar policy in the wrong direction.
This unprecedented overreach – whether intentional or accidental – reinforces our core message that it is Maine’s Legislature’s job to create solar policy, not the PUC. Last year, a number of self-described solar supporters in the legislature decided not to support the comprehensive, compromise solar bill (LD 1649) in part because they believed the PUC was better equipped to handle the issue. If this is the PUC’s best effort, then obviously the legislature needs to take the reigns back.
ReVision Energy will be present throughout the PUC’s public comment period on the new rules, as well as working to educate the public and legislators on the powerful win-win benefits of solar: Savings for the individual, savings for society, and new, good jobs for Mainers.
What Does This Mean for Solar in Maine?
If the PUC’s rules prevail:
If you already have solar net metering – You will be grandfathered in for 15 years.
If you are a new solar customer (starting 2017 onward) – You will receive a smaller benefit for part of your solar bill for the life of the system. Having read the proposed rule, we think it is very unlikely (and completely impractical) for the proposal to become reality. This will not stop us from fiercely fighting against it.
Maine can, and should, do better with solar policy, and we will be working with our network of solar allies – politicians from all parties (and unaffiliated), business leaders, faith leaders, communities, environmental groups, institutions of education, solar customers, would-like-to-be solar customers, and all members of the public who want the strong benefits of solar for Maine to be realized.
The first round of this process starts on October 17th, at 1pm, when the PUC holds a public hearing at their office, 101 2nd St, Hallowell, ME.
If you can, SHOW UP. Diverse voices and viewpoints are needed to show the breadth of support for solar in Maine.
If you can’t be there in person, submit written comments. Comments will be taken by November 2, and the PUC may respond to comments submitted before October 12.
Get Out To Vote!!!
The legislature will likely take up a solar policy bill again this January, which could reverse changes made by the PUC and hopefully improve things for solar. We have fought tirelessly for comprehensive solar policy in Maine, failing in this last session to override the Governor’s veto by only 2 votes. We are confident that Maine’s Legislature can do the right thing for solar, and we will work to make the facts clear despite ongoing campaigns of misinformation and bullying on the side of anti-solar advocates.
Local politics matter, and the makeup of Maine’s legislature after the November elections will strongly effect the possibility of a new solar bill passing.
Many legislators voted against solar thinking that people in their districts didn’t care. Prove them wrong! You can contact your local legislators using our portal at: http://solarforme.org/write-your-legislators/.
The Maine League of Conservation Voters put out a great Issues guide for the Fall Election, on which all current legislators are ranked on their track record for solar.