Maine Regulators Issue Decision on Net Metering

The Maine Public Utilities Commission (PUC) this week approved revisions to the state’s rules on net metering.

“The Commission received many useful comments over the last several months regarding this Rule and all the comments were reviewed and analyzed carefully” noted Commission Chairman Mark Vannoy in a Jan. 31 statement. “The resulting rule a) grandfathers existing customers for fifteen years, b) for new entrants it locks in the phase down level, at the year in which they enter, for 15 years, and c) maintains incentive margins consistent with the declining costs of solar technology.”

The PUC decision focuses on residential rooftop solar. Major components of the decision include:

  1. Grandfathering of existing net metering customers. All existing customers and new customer installations that occur prior to Jan. 1, 2018, will be grandfathered for 15 years. Those customers will receive the current incentives and terms as they exist today.
  2. Grandfathering of new entrants to net metering. As new customers sign up over the next 10 years, netting of the transmission and distribution (T&D) portion of the bill will be gradually decreased to reflect reductions in the costs of small renewable generation technology. For example, in year 1 NEB customers will receive the full value of the supply portion, and 90 percent of the T&D portion for each year of the 15 years.
  3. Maintaining incentive levels. The incentives to net metering customers under the new rule should not change the length of time it takes for a customer to recoup their investment. The estimated payback for new installations will be similar to what it has been historically. For a customer installation signed in year one, the full incentive for supply and 90 percent of the incentive for T&D is received for 15 years. As the cost of technology declines, the incentive for T&D also declines for new entrants. For a new customer installation in year two, for example, the cost of the solar panels will have declined but the incentive will also decline to 80 percent for T&D and the full incentive for supply.
  4. Renewable energy credit (REC)-based revenue stream. The new rule allows net metering customer to choose to monetize the value of their solar generation and receive a credit for that value. Net metered installations will be automatically classified as a Maine Class I Renewable Resource.

The PUC said that it decided not to address larger scaled projects and community projects as part of the net metering rules to ensure the PUC stayed within its regulatory function, and in light of legislative initiatives in these areas.

Lead image credit: Bernd Sieker | Flickr


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