What’s Next for Solar in Maine?
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With ‘neXt metering’ out of the picture (for now), retail net metering remains the law of the land in Maine. Anyone who signs up to go solar today can apply for the same interconnection agreement for net metered solar as they could before, and our friendly front-end staff is ready and waiting to help move you through the process!
What’s going on with the PUC review of net metering?
CMP has officially hit a milestone of 1% solar penetration in Maine, which starts a mandated review of net metering by the PUC. This process could have been circumvented by the passage of LD1649, but now it will move forward, likely this summer. The process will take a period of months, with results not expected until sometime this Fall. Even then, it will be at least 2017 before any rule changes could take effect.
What will the PUC review process be like?
ReVision Energy, along with other solar installers and many of the same stakeholders who participated in the process that led to LD1649, will be active participants of the work the PUC will be doing this summer. The good news is that, having done so much work talking about solar’s value before, we feel we can make a great argument about the fairness and simplicity of retail net metering.
Ultimately, the decision will be in the hands of the three PUC commissioners. We anticipate three possible outcomes:
- Continue net metering as it currently exists (no changes)
- Eliminate net metering entirely
- Modify net metering
Of the options, we think #3 is the most likely, with a modification that reduces compensation for new net metered customers should the rule changes take effect.
Obviously such an outcome would be disastrous for the growth of solar in Maine, so we will be fighting hard to convince the PUC that they should first ‘do no harm’ – that the status quo of net metering is a fair and simple mechanism for compensating solar, and minimally should be continued, if not expanded upon.
If I have net metering now, should I be worried?
No one, including Maine’s staunchest solar opponents, have suggested that existing net metering customers should have this right revoked. To do so would be a gross violation of the public trust and would be nearly unprecedented, so most industry watchers expect existing solar customers to be ‘grandfathered’ in regardless of the outcome at the PUC.
What if I’m considering a solar project this spring/summer?
You can expect more updates from us right in this column. We’ll also be keeping the website solarforme.org up to date, and we expect further press attention to solar as many eyes will be watching the PUC.
The ideal scenario would be for the legislature to try again and hopefully succeed in passing comprehensive solar legislation in its next session. Those who care about solar’s growth in Maine should take a hard look at how and why their local legislators voted on LD1649 and previous solar bills, make their opinions known, and vote accordingly this fall.
Finally, we want to take a moment to thank our customers, potential customers, friends, staffers, and other allies who worked hard and poured hundreds of hours of volunteer time into rallying support for solar in Augusta. Each email your wrote, each phone call you placed, each trip to Augusta and sign you held, each legislator you talked to, each letter you wrote… Made a difference. That difference was not quite enough to overturn a tidal wave of bad information, but we have an increasingly diverse, and better informed, group of supporters who see solar as not only the right solution for Maine’s environment, but also for Maine’s economy.
We look forward to continuing our charge towards a fossil-free New England, and embracing technological change, innovation, market competitiveness, and uncompromising customer service as the ways to capture hearts and minds with the promise of solar energy.