Attempt to reverse LePage solar policy veto fails (again) in Maine

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The Maine legislature’s attempt to mitigate the dismantling of net metering under Governor LePage (R) died yesterday, with a second attempt to overturn a veto of solar policy fix failing in the House of Representatives – again by two votes.

LD 1444 would have eliminated a controversial measure under which the value of all electricity generated by grid-tied, customer-sited PV systems is reduced depending on the year of the installation. This practice of not only determining the value of net exports but all electricity, described as “gross metering”, is a central aspect to Maine regulators’ disassembling of the net metering policy.

Under the new rules imposed by LePage’s appointees on the Maine Public Utilities Commission, the value of electricity from net metered-solar for purposes of compensation was reduced 10% for systems installed after March 16. For systems installed after March of next year this value will fall another 10%, and another 10% each year after that, ensuring that in a few years utility customers who want to adopt solar will not be able to recoup their investment.

LD 1444 would also have lifted caps on participation in the state’s community solar program.

LePage vetoed the bill in early March, and despite a successful vote to override the veto in the Maine Senate, the House vote fell short last Thursday by two votes.

However, at least one of those voting against the override had a change of heart, so the measure came up for a vote again on Tuesday. Again it failed, again by two votes.

Dylan Voorhees, the clean energy director at Natural Resources Council of Maine, alleges that Governor LePage and his allies heavily pressured members of the House to not override his veto.

“Today, LePage’s extreme legislative allies again resorted to desperate tactics to thwart the will of the people and this bipartisan bill,” reads a statement from Voorhees.

“They pushed Representatives to stay home, leave the chamber, and trade their solar votes for unrelated favors. This kind of corrupt politics will bring higher electric costs to all Mainers and place outrageous new fees on Mainers who choose to generate and use their own power.”