Solar developers are facing a series of challenges when it comes to getting their multi-million-dollar projects started in the state of Maine.
Lengthy utility reviews, or studies, have been significantly stalling projects, prompting developers to worry they’ll miss a newly established December 31, 2024 deadline to qualify for ratepayer subsidies. The subsidies are integral to the state’s net energy billing program, which provides credits to generators for clean energy they send to the grid. Several developers have asked the Maine Public Utilities Commission (PUC) for an exemption from the recently enacted state law.
According to the Sun Journal, the Maine Renewable Energy Association and the Coalition for Community Solar Access are backing solar developers who have continued to run into delays “despite their best efforts”; the groups say that failing to grant the exemptions will have a “chilling effect on renewable energy” in Maine.
The PUC is also under fire for raising costs for businesses to subsidize solar expansion. A trade group of manufacturers known as the Industrial Energy Consumers’ Group has filed a complaint with the state supreme court against the PUC over the “new and historically expensive category of above-market electricity charges”, which were introduced into law in July 2023.
Additionally, the group claims the PUC’s allocation of costs directly defies the Federal Power Act, which preempts states’ abilities to set rates affecting wholesale sales of electricity in interstate commerce. The group is requesting the court order the PUC to restore the previous rates and to create a new rate system that is “just and reasonable.”
So far, the PUC has provided no comment; regulators have until March 6 to respond.
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