Gross Metering is Dead
This morning April 9, 2019, the Maine Public Utilities Commission (PUC) issued an emergency rule to immediately reinstate net metering in Maine. This notice ends a complicated and costly arrangement commonly referred to as "gross metering." Gross metering required all ratepayers to invest in meters for the purposes of reducing the benefit solar customers received for energy they generated and consumed directly in their home.
Today's decision is the product of over two years of regulatory and legislative work led by Insource Renewables, ReVision Energy, and the Natural Resources Council of Maine. See our gross metering timeline for more information.
Janet Mills' Pro-Solar Agenda
Gross metering's imminent demise was signaled following the election of Janet Mills as governor. Mills had run on a pro-solar platform and explicitly stated that the elimination of gross metering would be a high priority with her administration. Mills' election signaled that the strong bipartisanship effort to undo gross metering would be successful as a result of having a governor willing to sign solar legislation. The previous governor's veto pen had been the main instrument that allowed gross metering to go into effect.
On Tuesday, April 2, Governor Mills signed LD 91 into law. LD 91 reverted back to net metering, a mechanism in which customers receive a 1:1 credit for each kilowatt-hour they export onto the grid. This reversal also eliminated the need to install costly additional meters.
The cost of gross metering
Insource Renewables had helped to substantiate the cost of these meters to the PUC in late 2018, when the company requested that medium and large electrical customers be exempt from gross metering due to the impact the program had on non-solar ratepayers. The PUC approved Insource's request and concluded that the program would not provide benefits to ratepayers until its fourth year. As a result, all meters installed through 2020 would cost ratepayers more money than the program was intended to save. This was a significant conclusion, as the PUC had initially expected gross metering to be of benefit to ratepayers from day one.
The Future of Solar in Maine
In today's proceeding, Commissioner Randall Davis concluded that the continuance of gross metering posed an "imminent threat" to ratepayers in justifying an immediate end to the program.
"We are thankful to all of the parties that helped to demonstrate the ineffectiveness of this program, and to the Public Utilities Commission for taking immediate action," stated Insource Renewables' president Vaughan Woodruff. "We look forward to comprehensive discussions on how to move solar forward in a manner that benefits Maine communities and ratepayers."
What does this mean for solar customers who currently have a gross metered system?
It will take some time, but Central Maine Power (CMP) and Emera Maine will need to amend your arrangement to provide you will a full credit for every kilowatt-hour your solar PV system generates. Your gross meters will likely be left in place.
What does this mean for customers who installed solar prior to gross metering?
The gross metering rules limited the length of the net metering arrangement for customers who had installed systems prior to April 2018 to 15 years. This limit has been eliminated.
What does this mean for customers who are considering a new solar energy system?
This transition back to net metering means that you will receive full credits for your solar PV system. Solar companies will no longer be required to install additional meters at your property.
What comes next for solar in Maine?
There are a variety of bills that are being considered that will help set the stage for long-lasting solar policies that will help all Mainers capture the benefits of solar. We will keep you updated on them as they are considered.