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PORTLAND PRESS HERALD - Solar advocates petition PUC to reconsider net metering decision

March 21, 2017

Today, Insource Renewables joined Conservation Law Foundation, Natural Resources Council of Maine, ReVision Energy, and 2,150 individual petitioners from across Maine in making a formal request to the Public Utilities Commission to reconsider its rule change related to net metering. The rule is set to go into effect on January 1, 2018 unless the legislature redirects the PUC by passing legislation this session. The PUC has proposed a series of rule changes that will significantly alter the relationship between net metering customers and the state's investor-owned utility monopolies. The new PUC rule:

  • Jeopardizes the long-standing right to self-generate one’s own power.

The rule phases out a cornerstone framework that was simple. Under net metering, customers are able to own and consume their own power in a fair way that exists across the country. For every kilowatt-hour they put onto the grid when they produce extra, net metering customers get a credit to buy one kilowatt-hour back at other times. The PUC replaced net metering with a complicated new mechanism that is likely illegal, penalizes customers for generating their own electricity, and severely undercuts the ability for Maine’s grid to adapt to advances in battery storage.

  • Exposes ratepayers to new taxes and burdensome, unnecessary costs.

The rule adds an unprecedented new tax on power generated and consumed on the customer’s premises. Customers will be required to pay the utility for a portion of the electricity passing directly from a customer’s solar energy system to their appliances without ever touching the grid. It requires new solar customers to install additional equipment to implement this new fee. Additionally, all Maine ratepayers will be forced to pick up the tab for a complex new billing system required of the utilities. This further blocks innovation and cost savings.

  • Threatens millions of dollars of private investment & corresponding jobs.

By discouraging solar, the PUC’s new rule creates significant uncertainty that will limit long-term investments and threaten the job gains that other states have experienced from comprehensive solar policies. Potential investment and new jobs would be dispersed across Maine, injecting much needed economic activity in communities that are struggling to create high quality jobs and to adapt to a fast-changing global economy.

  • Undercuts efforts to bring solar to Mainers of all income levels.

By failing to lift arbitrary barriers on community solar projects, the PUC rule impedes efforts to make solar accessible for all Maine people. In other states, community solar helps to take out the upfront cost to install solar, thus removing barriers for low- and moderate-income households to reduce their energy costs. The PUC’s draft rule would have addressed these limits, but - at the urging of utilities - they were removed in the final rule. Read the article.

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