Maine Legislators Sustain Governor’s Veto of Unique Solar Bill

A vote of the Maine House of Representatives today upheld Gov. Paul LePage’s veto of solar legislation designed to modernize Maine’s solar power policy.
 
The bill, which was approved by the Maine House and Senate and sent last week to the Governor for his signature, stemmed from a study of the value of solar conducted by state regulators and was designed to provide a balance between the interests of utilities and solar power providers in the state. LePage vetoed the bill on April 27.
 
Following the initial vote, the Maine legislature website reported that the House considered the veto a second time at the request of Representative Jeff McCabe, but there were still not enough votes to overturn the veto.

The reaction on social media to the House vote was mixed.
 
Troy Moon (@TroyinPortland), Sustainability Coordinator for the City of Portland, Maine, tweeted that he was “disappointed but not surprised,” by the House vote, adding that the decision was a “huge setback for #solar in #Maine.”
 
solarOn Facebook, some followers of solar provider ReVision Energy in their comments expressed distrust in the policy, echoing LePage’s claim that the bill would force electric rate payers to subsidize the solar industry. ReVision said in one response that the policy “does not ask anyone to subsidize anything.”
 
Among the requirements of the bill was the replacement of the current net metering credit for excess energy sent to the grid from a solar project with 20-year contracts based on set prices for hourly net exports. A buyer, such as a local utility, would have been a party to those contracts, and would have been obligated to aggregate the purchased power and sell it into the regional wholesale power market at the best available prices. The bill would have directed the state utilities commission to request bids for 248 MW of solar power from grid-scale, distributed generation resources; large-scale community resources; commercial and industrial resources; and residential and small business resources.
 
In a public address for the week of April 20, LePage claimed that the bill would ensure the costs of the program were borne by ratepayers, and included a provision “to allow above-market contracts to be added to stranded costs.”

Lead image: Maine state house. Credit: Shutterstock.

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Jennifer Delony, analyst for TransmissionHub, started her career as a B2B news editor in the local and long-distance telecommunications industries in the '90s. Jennifer began covering renewable energy issues at the local level in 2005 and covered U.S. and Canadian utility-scale wind energy as editor of North American Windpower magazine from 2006-2009. She also provides analysis for the oil and natural gas sectors as editor of Oilman Magazine.

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