Renewable Energy Legislation in Maine
Last updated: Monday April 15, 2013
Maine Introduces Feed-in Tariff Legislation
March 26, 2013
After a long period of quiescence, Maine's state legislature has again taken up feed-in tariffs. Legislative document 1085 to establish the Renewable Energy Feed-in Tariff was introduced 19 March 2013 and referred to the Committee on Energy, Utilities and Technology.
Introduced by Senator Chris Johnson (D) and co-sponsored by Senator Jim Boyle (D) sponsors of the bill included three other Democratic state senators, one unaffiliated state senator, two Democratic state representatives, and one Republican state representative.
Committee hearing of the bill has not been scheduled. [Edit: Ity now has, see above]
This is not Maine's first attempt at feed-in tariff legislation. The state has a pilot community-based feed-in tariff that became law in 2009. That program limited total capacity to 50 MW with an effective limit of 25 MW. As elsewhere in the US, progress since then has been stymied.
Here is a summary of the proposed program's details.
- Purpose: rapid and sustainable development of distributed renewable energy
- Project size cap: 500 kW
- Ownership restriction: can own no more than 500 kW of generation in total
- Technologies included: Solar PV, solar thermal, concentrating solar PV, biogas, landfill gas, biomass, tidal, and wind
- Carbon restriction: cannot use any fossil fuel or sequestered form of carbon
- Connection requirement: utilities required to connect within 90 days
- Interconnection costs: < 500 feet from connection point, costs borne by ratepayers,>500 feet from connection point, costs borne by project developer
- Contract term: 20 years
- Tariff determination: rates sufficient to operate and attract capital with a minimum rate of return of 3% and not more than 7%, except for solar photovoltaics
- Tariff for solar photovoltaics: minimum rate of return of 8% and not more than 10%
- Local content premium: 20% for projects with 70% local content; 10% for projects with 50% local content
- Public property premium: 5%
- Biogas from natural sources: 10% for biogas from manure, decaying biomass, and landfills
- Program cost distribution: non-bypassable surcharge on all ratepayer classes
- Review: every two years
- Reporting: every four years to Governor and legislature
- Tariff determination and rate-setting by the Maine Public Utility Commission based on
- Operation and maintenance costs
- Annual principal and interest of loans
- Cost of a contingency reserve
- All other reasonable costs and expenses
- The minimum annual return for new projects is reduced every two years by
- 0.5% for other than solar PV
- The minimum annual return for new projects is reduced every two years by 0.5% for solar PV
Wednesday April 27, 2011, 1:00 PM
PUBLIC HEARING on L.D. 1447 "An Act To Create Jobs through the Establishment of the Renewable Energy Resources Feed-in Tariff Program" in the hearing room of the Utilities and Energy Committee in the Cross Building.
Final Disposition: Unanimous voted Ought Not To Pass by committee, May 11, 2011
An article on
"What Feed-in Tariffs Could Do for Japan's Electricity Shortage" by Paul Gipe
January 27, 2011: Proposed Bill would remove limits on credit paid to utility customers with solar panels that have signed up for net energy billing. Final Disposition: Unanimous voted Ought Not To Pass by committee, March 1, 2011
2009-10 "Feed-in Tariff" legislation
The original bill (LD 1450) that we had drafted was voted "ought not to pass" and parts of it have been incorporated into HP 742, LD 1075 The combined bill is now known as: "An Act To Promote Community-based Energy". Some features of LD 1450 have been incorporated into LD 1075 which, has been severely limited in its effectiveness by the imposition of caps on both the maximum generating capacity and rates payable to distributed generators. What remains of LD 1450 is the concept of feed-in tariffs pertaining to systems under 100 kW capacity. (Over 100 kW systems can negotiate contracts with the PUC).
June 10, 2009: LD 1075, the Community-based Renewable Energy Pilot Program law has been passed to be enacted on a roll call vote on June 4, 2009 in Augusta. The vote was 145 yeas, 0 nos, 5 absent, 1 excused. The governor signed the bill into law on June 9.
LD 1075 has become the successor bill of both LD 1450 (The "feed-in tariff bill") and the original version of LD 1075 (An Act to Promote Community-based Energy). In quest of a unanimous committee vote, the combination bill has been watered down from two separate acts designed to provide major incentives for distributed renewable energy generators to a pilot program with only a very modest incentive effect at best.
On the positive side, the new law includes key elements of the feed-in tariff concept -- long term contracting on the basis of predetermined rates for small power generators that use renewable energy as defined in Maine law. It also provides specific advantages for community based electric power generators. Thus the new law establishes in Maine law several precedents that will serve as a platform for the significant improvements needed to make this legislation serve the purposes which both original bills were intended to serve.
All concerned agree that while the survival of this legislation in a very difficult legislative climate is a major achievement, it is only the beginning of a longer process that must ultimately lead to significant growth in renewable energy-based distributed power generation -- and thus reduced reliance on fossil fuels -- in Maine.
May 20, 2009: At 3:42pm the Utility & Energy committee voted a unanimous "ought to pass" on LD 1075 (the combined bill). The PUC have been tasked with setting rates within certain prescribed limits and caps once it passes.