Solar Industry News

Call Your Legislators! Ensure Maine Prioritizes Solar

This call to action was written by Lindsay Bourgoine, Director of Policy & Government Affairs

Solar Champions, we need your help. The future of solar policy and Maine's net billing program is yet again under siege in Augusta, and it could mean detrimental changes for your energy costs and budget, even if your system was installed years ago.

We are asking you to call your legislator to ensure we protect the progress we have made transitioning to clean energy, and voice your support for smart, prospective changes that will benefit all Mainers. We've shared ways for you to get involved →

The Bills in Question

Between now and June 30, the House and the Senate are considering two opposing proposals:

  • LD 1986 is a forward-looking solutions-oriented bill that protects and prioritizes solar while making smart reforms.  
  • LD 1347 is a retroactive bill that will jeopardize all current projects and kill community solar.

We are calling upon our community of Solar Champions to contact their legislators and ask them to pass LD 1986 and reject LD 1347. While both bills focus on reducing the costs of small-scale commercial, municipal, and community solar projects, LD 1347 could also retroactively change compensation rates for any project at any time within the net energy billing program, including residential rooftop solar installations.

Essentially, this means that rates could change for any solar customer at any time-something we believe threatens the commitments we've made to Mainers investing in solar to reduce energy costs and emissions. Even more, LD 1347 would effectively kill the opportunity to build community solar projects, which are essential to the clean energy transition providing low-cost clean energy to low- and moderate-income ratepayers.

How can you help?

Please contact your state representatives (both House and Senate) and ask them to pass LD 1986. Giving them a call is best—leave a voicemail and share your personal perspective as to why the state should move away from costly, volatile fossil fuel energy and continue to enable a thriving clean energy economy to ultimately benefit all Mainers, economically and environmentally.

Find contact information for your State Senator here and your State Representative here. If you don’t have time to make a call, please send an email.

Sample Voicemail or Email template:
 

Hello my name is [name] and I live in [town]. I’m calling to ask you to please support LD 1986 as a constructive path to reform solar energy policy to make it beneficial to all electric ratepayers. I respectfully ask you to pass this thoughtful, forward-looking bill. [Pick a topic below that resonates with you and share your own solar story]. LD 1986 will:

  • Provide a true understanding of the costs and benefits of solar programs to ensure ratepayers are not unfairly charged.
  • Maintain a lane for community solar at a time when the federal government has considerable funding for building projects that serve low-income ratepayers thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act.
  • Avoid retroactive changes that threaten all existing solar projects regardless of size causing significant economic harm and damage Maine’s reputation, business environment and our growing clean energy economy.
  • Address our rapidly changing climate and our state’s ambitious clean energy targets by moving away from polluting fossil energy and reducing emissions.
  • Ensure Mainers like me—and municipalities, schools, and small businesses—have an opportunity to curb energy costs by investing in local, homegrown solar energy.

Additionally, please reject LD 1347. While it appears to have many similar provisions as LD 1986—it also includes retroactive provisions allowing the PUC to change rates on existing projects at any time (including even rooftop solar projects) and would kill the future of community solar by limiting size, location, and accounts. This is backwards-looking policy that will stifle a transition to a clean energy economy. Please pass LD 1986 and strongly reject LD 1347. Thank you, sincerely [name].

Interested in learning more? Here's some context: 

Why is ReVision advocating to pass LD 1986?

LD 1986 is a solutions-oriented bill that takes the necessary steps to reform Maine’s net energy billing program while valuing clean energy and its role addressing climate change and its opportunity to provide low-cost energy to all Mainers.

What will the bill do?
  • Make important reforms to curb program costs without jeopardizing existing projects and the growth of affordable clean energy in Maine 
  • Allow the Governor’s Energy Offices to establish a new program for solar projects 1-5 MW to take advantage of federal funds to enable greater access to affordable clean energy
  • Ask the Public Utilities Commission to generate a full accounting of net energy billing costs and benefits to ratepayers so we can make smart policy decisions versus relying on poor assumptions and bad utility math
Why does ReVision strongly object to LD 1347?

LD 1347 is a bill established to eliminate Maine’s net energy billing program entirely. It would make retroactive changes to existing solar energy projects (including your own residential rooftop solar array!) and entirely kill small-scale solar (i.e. projects that serve universities, small businesses, and non-profits) and community solar.

What will the bill do?

LD 1347 includes almost everything in LD 1986 in order to disguise it as a ‘compromise bill.' It does not account for the true costs and benefits of solar energy programs, which means ratepayers will continue to be charged for whatever the utility determines are costs, without scrutiny or consideration of benefits. 

However, this bill will also:

  • Allow the Public Utilities Commission to evaluate and retroactively change compensation rates (for the solar energy projects provide) for any project at any time, including installations in the kilowatt hour credit program and the commercial and industrial tariff program 
  • Restrict future participation in net energy billing to projects less than 660kw in size, with fewer than 10 meters (meaning a community solar project with more than 10 customers could not be built) and requiring at least 50% of energy consumption to happen on site (again, meaning a community solar installation or offsite installation to serve for example, a housing authority, school district, or a non-profit, would not be permitted) 

It is important to note that no state has ever passed retroactive solar policy like this—this would be entirely unprecedented. Other states have grandfathered in existing project installations and agreements, only changing the rules moving forward.

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