Crucial battle over solar panel incentives goes to Maine PUC
Oct 19 2016 by Johnny Bowman
It would also grandfather previous net-metering agreements for a period of 15 years and set the limit for new systems at 10 years. As solar's popularity grows, they say, the payments are shifting the cost of serving homes with solar panels onto other customers.
The Mesquite solar power purchases fit into a much larger program under which the Navy and the Marine Corps want to obtain 50% of their energy needs, both ashore and afloat, from non-fossil fuel sources by 2020.
Responding to this criticism, PUC spokesman Harry Lanphear said the commission laid out its reasoning in a notice of rulemaking last month.
What's happening this fall at the PUC is likely to be only a prelude to a rematch next year in the Legislature.
"The question to start off with for the Maine PUC, or any commission for that matter, is: As the cost of solar power declines, why in the world would we keep a system in place that requires customers to pay retail prices for what is essentially a wholesale product?"
NRCM was among numerous stakeholders involved in crafting a compromise solar policy that was approved by the Legislature earlier this year but vetoed by Gov. LePage.
Phase out net metering as it now exists.
During the PUC's review of net metering this summer, explains the group, approximately 4,400 ME entities submitted comments or signed petitions asking the PUC to leave net metering intact (or make changes that expand its availability).
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According to the PUC's own rules, says the NRCM, the commission was required to "review net energy billing to determine whether it should continue or be modified" because solar installations have reached 1% of the power generated in Maine. The company is dedicated to helping clients buy solar panels at the lowest cost possible to them, and they also ensure that their clients are able to find the best quality available in their area.
"What we're really trying to get at it here is what's fair for all ratepayers", he said.