Maine to dismantle net metering six weeks earlier than expected

Another interesting twist in the battle over Maine’s net metering laws.

Maine’s Public Utilities Commission (MPUC) is in the process of changing the state’s rules on net metering to diminish the rates paid for the output of PV systems 10% per year for new installations. In December, they told installers they had until April 30 to install systems under the current retail rate net metering.

Turns out, they may have….lied. At best, it can be said they have done a rapid about face, shortening that period nearly six weeks to March 16.

The decision yesterday to shorten the deadline has thrown the Maine solar industry into turmoil, with some advocates are suggesting will destroy the state’s solar industry.

“The Maine Public Utilities Commission (PUC) is out of control,” said Dylan Voorhees, clean energy project director for the Natural Resources Council of Maine. “Today the PUC decided Maine is closed for business and intent on destroying jobs in America’s fastest growing job market.”

“The PUC decision to move the goal posts for the third time in a single year is a slap in the face to hundreds of Maine workers and their families who are investing in greater energy independence for our state,” Voorhees added. “The PUC has again shown its willingness to put the Governor’s whims ahead of its duty to make sound, fair, fact-based, economic decisions.”

MPUC’s decision is just the latest decision in what has been a particularly contentious fight over net metering in Maine, with its aggressively bellicose governor, the irrepressible Paul LePage, fighting tooth and nail to destroy the solar industry in the state. The MPUC is caught between his incessant calls for devastating changes and the legislature’s attempts to keep the solar industry alive and growing. Achieving a balance under such circumstances has proven challenging.

Voorhees says the legislature must intervene quickly to make sure these rules don’t remain in effect for long.