UPDATED: Jan 17, 2018
Maine’s Legislature is currently considering LD 1686, a republican sponsored piece of legislation with broad bipartisan support, that would save Mainers millions of dollars in fees imposed by the misguided Maine PUC gross metering rule.
If left unchecked, the aptly named ‘gross metering’ would start penalizing people who generate their own power (using solar, wind, or biomass) by charging them fees on power they produce and consume at their location before it ever touches the electric grid.
We have long argued that this policy was unfair, likely illegal, and also unworkable. On the latter part, the Maine PUC agrees, and recently extended the gross metering implementation window from Jan 1, 2018 to May 1, 2018, after it was revealed how poorly prepared CMP and Emera were to implement the new rule.
Take the case of a residential solar array: In order to comply with gross metering, additional equipment must be installed at a cost that CMP has estimated as “in the thousands of dollars” per new solar installation. It’s bad enough that this new equipment is an unprecedented intrusion on a customer’s right to privacy and right to generate their own power. But, to really top it off, guess who pays for the $1,000+ cost? Maine ratepayers do, because CMP will incorporate those costs into electricity rates going forward.
Maine’s ratepayers, who were promised savings by this rule, are now on the hook for over $1,000,000 in costs of new equipment in 2018 and an additional estimated $1,000,000 in costs for the utility companies to upgrade their billing systems in order to charge solar customers for their gross metered power (this comes on top of the $52,000,000 of rate payer money that CMP just spent on a billing system upgrade).
Surely, though, the revenue gained by charging solar homeowners will pay for itself? Hardly! The estimated annual revenue gained is only about $50,000
Does it make sense to spend $2,000,000 to earn $50,000? Of course it doesn’t, and that’s why the Maine legislature needs to urgently pass LD1686.
LD1686 is not a pro-solar bill. It is a patch to a horribly misguided policy that would disrupt the growth of Maine’s renewable energy economy for no clear benefit. The PUC demonstrably did not understand the rule that they wrote and now they are too embarrassed to admit their mistake. The legislature should pass LD1686 to fix that rule before Maine rate payers are saddled with the consequences.
- Eliminate gross metering, saving Mainers over $2,000,000 in unnecessary costs.
- Uphold reduction in benefits of net exported energy exactly as PUC had laid out.
- Require the PUC to study the best path forward for robust energy policy overhaul, including options for time-of-use metering or market-based rate design.
How Do I Get Involved?
THANK YOU to all of our supporters who have written letters to the editor, met with their state and local reps, attended town meetings, spoken to solar skeptics, etc. over the last couple of years. The ongoing outpouring of grassroots support is the foundation on which the solar coalition has stood and why our industry continues to thrive despite continued policy challenges. This work must continue, and with stronger pressure than ever before.
We continue to advocate for a thoughtful, long term energy policy that evolves beyond the monopoly utility paradigm towards a market based approach which integrates a variety of distributed energy resources (like solar, EV charging, energy storage, and other advanced technologies) into a dynamic, bidirectional smart grid.
The grid we imagine will be cleaner, greener, cheaper and more resilient than the 20th century monopoly utility model and provide a vital boost to Maine’s rural economy by leveraging the incredibly abundant natural local resources of wind, water, and sun. We hope you’ll join us in continuing to advocate for this powerful energy future for Maine’s economy.