An Act To Protect and Expand Access to Solar Power in Maine
Sec. 1. 35-A MRSA §3209-A, as enacted by PL 2011, c. 262, §1, is repealed and the following enacted in its place:
§ 3209-A. Net energy billing
(1) In an investor-owned transmission and distribution utility territory, does not have an installed capacity greater than 2 megawatts; or
(2) In a consumer-owned transmission and distribution utility territory, does not have an installed capacity greater than 100 kilowatts unless the consumer-owned utility elects, pursuant to rules adopted by the commission, to allow an eligible facility to have an installed capacity of up to 2 megawatts.
The commission shall consider all identifiable costs and benefits over multiple time periods. The commission shall consider any costs of net energy billing separately from the reduced purchase of electricity from transmission and distribution utilities arising from generation by the customer.
Sec. 2. 35-A MRSA §3475 is enacted to read:
§ 3475. Solar energy rebate program; fund
(1) From the effective date of this section to June 30, 2019, the rebate for eligible residents may not exceed 12% of the cost of installation and the rebate for eligible commercial customers may not exceed the lower of 12% of the cost of installation or $50,000.
(2) For the period from July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2022, the rebate for eligible residents may not exceed 10% of the cost of installation and the rebate for eligible commercial customers may not exceed the lower of 10% of the cost of installation or $40,000.
(3) Rebates for low-income or moderate-income residents may not exceed 25% of the cost of installation for projects that are eligible for federal renewable energy tax credits or 45% of the cost of installation for projects that are not eligible for federal renewable energy tax credits.
The Efficiency Maine Trust shall establish a solar energy rebate program fund to be used solely for the purposes of this section. The commission shall transfer all assessments made under this subsection to the trust to be deposited in the fund. Any interest on funds in the fund must be credited to the fund. Funds not spent in any fiscal year remain in the fund to be used for the purposes of this section only. The trust may use up to 5% of the fund to cover the costs of verification of eligibility and administration of the solar energy rebate program.
This bill amends the laws governing net energy billing. It prohibits a charge to a customer that elects to use net energy billing. It provides specific provisions related to net energy billing including:
1. It provides that customers using net energy billing receive bill credits netted against delivery and supply charges on a one-to-one basis;
2. It provides that unused bill credits accumulate on a 12-month rolling basis;
3. It limits the installed capacity of an eligible facility to 2 megawatts in the territory of an investor-owned transmission and distribution utility and to 100 kilowatts in the territory of a consumer-owned transmission and distribution utility, except that the consumer-owned transmission and distribution utility may elect to allow an eligible facility with installed capacity up to 2 megawatts;
4. It allows an eligible facility with shared ownership or 3rd-party ownership to be eligible for net energy billing and prohibits the Public Utilities Commission from limiting the number of participants in a shared ownership project, but allows the commission to set a minimum share size; and
5. It requires a comprehensive review of ratepayer benefits and costs from net energy billing when any investor-owned transmission and distribution utility in the State enters into net energy billing agreements for a total generating capacity equal to 5% of the annual peak demand and again for every additional 3% of the utility's annual peak demand thereafter.
This bill also establishes a solar energy rebate program to be administered by the Efficiency Maine Trust. The program is to be funded through an assessment collected by the Public Utilities Commission from transmission and distribution utilities. Available funds are to be distributed in the following manner: 40% to eligible commercial customers, 20% to low-income or moderate-income residents and 40% to other eligible residents. This bill requires the trust to adopt routine technical rules to administer the program and requires the trust to submit an annual report to the Legislature that describes the actions of the trust related to the rebate program.