February 15, 2016

New Law Could Limit Expansion of Renewable Solar Power in Maine

Owners of solar energy businesses in Maine, and people supporting solar power, say they are worried the Legislature could take away a law that helps pay for those systems.

Solar owners can sell some of their electricity into the grid, through a process  called “net metering”.

Those rules determine how much utilities will pay for that power and how much they will buy.  
The Legislature is trying to come up with a new set of rules governing solar energy, including sales into the grid. But solar businesses and customer say they’re afraid net metering could be taken away.

On Thursday, those business leaders presented 4,000 petition signatures to the Legislature, asking to protect net metering.

One customer said that without the law, he would not be able to sell excess electricity and would face a far longer time period to pay for the cost of his solar system through savings.

Rep. Sara Gideon of Freeport, who is leading the effort to write a new solar law, told NEWS CENTER the law is being designed to encourage more use of solar power.

She says current users of net metering will be protected, and that a new system could provide more incentives than the present one.  

However, solar business owners say they have not been given any details of the proposed law, and don’t want to lose the one state program they say is encouraging solar development.
Rep. Gideon says the language for the new law should be completed in the next two weeks, and will need to go through hearings and votes in the Legislature.

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