Solar Bill LD 1652

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On Tuesday January 21, the Joint Standing Committee on Energy, Utilities, and Technology (EUT) has a public hearing on LD 1652, An Act to Support Solar Energy Development in Maine. The hearing starts at 1:00 p.m. in Room 211 in the Cross State Office Building. We encourage you to attend and testify in favor of this bill.

In addition 350 Maine and our allies in the Environmental Priorities Coalition are urging the EUT Committee to add at least two key provisions from “carry-over” other bills into LD 1652 when they vote it out of committee. These are:

  • Two years of restored funding to the now-shuttered solar rebate program at Efficiency Maine.
  • Change net-metering laws so that homeowners and businesses finally get compensated for any extra solar energy they produce. Currently, system owners are not reimbursed for their contributions to Maine's power supply.

Corporate utilities are here in Augusta to protect their shareholder’s profits, at the expense of Maine people. They are lobbying to limit solar power for Maine homes and businesses. They oppose policies to make solar more accessible to more Mainers and want to reduce how much Maine people get paid for the solar electricity they produce.

Make sure your legislator hears from YOU and please testify or submit written testimony in support of LD 1652. Maine people deserve access to an affordable way to generate their own power. Solar energy is a renewable source of clean, pollution-free energy that Maine needs to invest in for clean air and a healthy environment. Please make your voice heard on LD 1652! 

LD 1652 text below:

 

An Act To Support Solar Energy Development in Maine

Be it enacted by the People of the State of Maine as follows:

Sec. 1. 35-A MRSA c. 34-B  is enacted to read:

CHAPTER 34-B

THE MAINE SOLAR ENERGY ACT

§ 3471.  Short title

This chapter may be known and cited as "the Maine Solar Energy Act."

§ 3472.  Legislative findings

1.  Public interest.   The Legislature finds that it is in the public interest to develop the State's indigenous renewable energy resources, including abundant and widespread solar energy, in a manner that protects and improves the health and well-being of the citizens and natural environment of the State while also providing tangible economic benefits to communities, ratepayers and the overall economy. The Legislature finds that the development of the solar energy potential in the State needs to be integrated into the existing energy supply and transmission systems in a way that achieves system reliability, total capital cost-effectiveness and optimum short-term and long-term benefits to the citizens of the State. The Legislature finds it is in the public interest for the State to encourage and plan for significant solar energy production as part of a strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and meet the goals established in the state climate action plan developed pursuant to Title 38, section 577. The Legislature also finds it is in the public interest to encourage solar energy research and the development of solar energy generation equipment manufacturing facilities in the State.
2.  Contribution of solar energy development.   The Legislature finds and declares that the solar energy resources of the State constitute a valuable indigenous and renewable energy resource and that solar energy development, which is unique in its benefits to and impacts on the climate and the natural environment, makes a significant contribution to the general welfare of the citizens of the State for the following reasons:
A Solar energy is an economically feasible, large-scale energy resource that does not rely on fossil fuel combustion and therefore it can displace energy provided by that source and reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions; consequently, solar energy development may address energy needs while making a significant contribution to achievement of the State's renewable energy and greenhouse gas reduction objectives, including those in Title 38, section 576;
B There is an inexhaustible supply of solar energy throughout the State that can be effectively used for heat and electricity using current technology, and solar energy can be harnessed on large and small scales using simple or advanced technology;
C The State has no indigenous supplies of fossil fuel. All fossil fuel must be imported into the State, at great cost to the economy and with significant hazards to the health of the citizens of the State and natural environment;
D At present and increasingly in the future with anticipated technological advances that promise to increase the number of places in the State where grid-scale solar energy development is economically viable and changes in the electrical power market that favor clean power sources, solar energy may be used to displace electrical power that is generated from fossil fuel combustion and thus reduce our citizens' dependence on imported oil and natural gas and improve environmental quality and state and regional energy security; and
E Renewable energy resources within the State have the potential, over time, to provide enough energy for the State's homeowners and businesses to significantly reduce their use of oil and liquid petroleum-fueled heating systems by transitioning to renewable energy-based heating systems and to reduce their use of petroleum-fueled motor vehicles by transitioning to electric-powered motor vehicles. Electrification of heating and transportation has potential to increase the State's energy independence, to help stabilize total residential and commercial energy bills and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

§ 3473.  Specific measures to support solar energy

1.  Monitoring.   The commission shall monitor the level of solar energy development in the State in relation to the goals in section 3474, basic trends in solar energy markets and the likely costs and benefits for ratepayers from solar energy development, including but not limited to minimizing peak load on transmission systems.
2.  Economic development.   Within existing programs and resources, the State, including the Small Enterprise Growth Program, as established in Title 10, chapter 13; the Maine Technology Institute, as established in Title 5, section 12004-G, subsection 33-D; the Maine Rural Development Authority, as established in Title 5, section 12004-F, subsection 18; the Finance Authority of Maine, as established in Title 10, chapter 110; and the Department of Economic and Community Development, shall seek opportunities to promote investment in solar energy development, generation and manufacturing.

§ 3474.  Determination of public policy; state solar energy generation goals

1.  Encouragement of solar energy-related development.   It is the policy of the State in furtherance of the goals established in subsection 2 to encourage the attraction of appropriately sited development related to solar energy, including any additional transmission and other energy infrastructure needed to transport additional solar energy to market, consistent with all state environmental standards; the permitting and financing of solar energy projects; and the siting, permitting, financing and construction of solar energy research and manufacturing facilities.
2.  State solar energy generation goals.   The goals for solar energy generation in the State, including all production of electricity and thermal energy through solar energy technologies, using any conversion of units from thermal energy into megawatts that the commission considers appropriate, are that there be:
A At least 40 megawatts of installed capacity by 2016;
B At least 200 megawatts of installed capacity by 2020; and
C At least 500 megawatts of installed capacity by 2030.

 

Sec. 2. Determination of the value of distributed solar energy generation.

1. Value of distributed solar energy generation. The Public Utilities Commission shall determine the value of distributed solar energy generation in the State. The commission shall develop a method for valuing distributed solar energy generation. The method developed by the commission must, at a minimum, account for the value of the energy, the value of its delivery, generation capacity, transmission capacity and transmission and distribution line losses and the value of the reduced environmental impacts of the energy. The commission may, based on known and measurable evidence of the cost or benefit of solar operation to a utility, incorporate other values into the method, including credit for locally manufactured or assembled energy systems or systems installed at high-value locations on the electric grid, or other factors. When developing the method, the commission shall consult stakeholders with experience and expertise in power systems, solar energy and electric utility ratemaking regarding the proposed method, underlying assumptions and preliminary data.

2. Method. In developing a method for valuing distributed solar energy generation pursuant to this section, the Public Utilities Commission shall ensure the method is consistent with published guidance from the Interstate Renewable Energy Council.

3. Report. By January 15, 2015, the Public Utilities Commission shall submit to the joint standing committee of the Legislature having jurisdiction over energy matters a report on the determination of the value of distributed solar energy generation in the State.

 

SUMMARY

This bill creates the Maine Solar Energy Act, which:

1. States specific legislative findings that it is in the public interest to encourage development of solar energy production in the State. This includes finding that solar energy development makes a significant contribution to the general welfare of the citizens of the State and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions;

2. Requires the Public Utilities Commission to take specific measures regarding solar energy, including monitoring development and market trends and determining the value of distributed solar energy generation;

3. Requires the State, including the Small Enterprise Growth Program, the Maine Technology Institute, the Maine Rural Development Authority, the Finance Authority of Maine and the Department of Economic and Community Development, to seek opportunities to promote solar energy development, generation and manufacturing within existing programs; and

4. Establishes state solar energy generation goals.