Maine House passes solar policy fix

Today the Maine House voted 106-38 to pass legislation that will overturn a key aspect of the pending changes to the state’s net metering policy imposed by the Public Utilities Commission of Maine.

Most importantly, LD 1444 will remove the “gross metering” provision, which would have allowed a reduction in the value of solar electricity produced on-site and consumed within a one-month period. Under pending changes to net metering, the value of electricity produced by PV systems installed after March 16 will be 10% lower than the retail rate, and the value of electricity produced by new installations will fall 10% for each year that passes.

If LD 1444 becomes law, this reduction will only apply to the surplus electricity generated, not the entire output. Additionally the bill will lift a limit on the number of customers that can participate in community solar and other shared renewable energy programs, from the current 10 to 50.

LD 1444 passed the Maine Senate last Thursday. However, from here the challenge gets steeper. Maine’s Right-Populist Governor Paul LePage (R) is expected to veto the bill, and to override his veto will require a 2/3 majority of both houses.

Such overrides are not out of the question. The 108-38 vote shows more than 2/3 support for the bill, however a compromise bill to replace net metering failed by only two votes last August.