Bill to End Gross Metering Narrowly Defeated
For the third year in a row, an extreme anti-renewable agenda by Gov. Paul LePage and a minority in the Maine House has blocked any meaningful policy movement on solar.
While the Reps who voted against LD-1444 will say they voted the way they did to help out people struggling with their electric bills, the tragic irony of the situation is that the Legislature is in fact forcing an estimated $3million of new costs to ALL RATEPAYERS as a result of their failure to stop gross metering.
This is because the gross metering legislation will now force all new solar customers to get – at the expense of the Maine ratepayer – a piece of equipment estimated at $1,500 installed cost, for the expressed purpose of charging them a fee on their self-generated, behind-the-meter solar energy, to benefit CMP.
For those who think it’s unconscionable that we raise electric rates to charge a tax on solar you consume on your own property that never touches the grid, in order to benefit monopoly utility companies, we agree.
Thanks to the efforts of House Speaker Sara Gideon, the House will have a chance to make a reconsideration vote on LD1444 Monday or Tuesday of next week. For ALL solar supporters in Maine – please reach out to your Representatives in the Maine House to either thank them for their vote for solar, or to express your thoughts on their vote against solar, and for CMP.
- 4/5/2018 – House Fails to Override Gov. LePage’s Veto by 2 votes
- 4/2/2018 – Maine Senates votes YES to Override Gov. LePage’s Veto. Bill goes back to the House!!!
- 4/1/2018 – Unfortunately, not a joke – Gov. LePage vetoes LD1444
- 3/7/2018 – Maine’s House joined the Senate in voting overwhelmingly in favor of LD1444, An Act to Prohibit Gross Metering!
Why Does Gross Metering Need To Go Away?
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 LD1444.
LD1444 is not a pro-solar bill. It is not about Net Energy Billing (NEB) and does not have anything to do with rates for solar power exported to the grid. Rather, 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 Legislature should pass LD1444 to fix that rule before Maine rate payers are saddled with the consequences.
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.