The Maine legislature has approved a bill that would eliminate the state’s controversial “gross metering” rule for solar.
The legislation, L.D.91, was introduced in January by State Rep. Seth Berry, R-Maine, to repeal a fee for solar customers that was enacted under the administration of Maine’s previous governor, Paul LePage.
In the face of criticism from the business and industrial sectors, the Maine Public Utilities Commission suspended gross metering for those sectors. Now, L.D.91 would terminate the fee for residential solar systems. Legislation similar to L.D.91 previously received bipartisan support but was defeated as a result of a veto by LePage.
According to recent testimony from Dylan Voorhees, clean energy director at the Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM), gross metering “requires customers to pay a delivery charge on power consumed behind the meter,” as opposed to net metering, a policy under which utilities compensate solar customers for their excess energy.
“Gross metering requires the installation of a second meter, at expense to all ratepayers, to measure the full output of behind-the-meter generation, apart from the net flow of electricity to and from the grid,” explained Voorhees. “Customers’ bills are then netted against total generation, regardless of whether that power is consumed behind the meter or exported.”
Now, Voorhees calls the “speedy repeal” by the legislature “a clear sign that a bipartisan majority of legislators want Maine to move forward, not backward, on solar power and investment in clean energy.”
“Moving Maine forward on solar energy will give residents, businesses and towns the opportunity to become energy-independent, saving money, creating jobs and protecting the environment at the same time. It’s a win-win that will benefit all Maine people.”
He continues, “The first step in moving toward a clean energy future is not unfairly penalizing those who invest in solar to provide clean, affordable power for their home or businesses. L.D.91 repeals the harmful fees utilities are now charging solar customers for using their own solar power. Of course, bipartisan majorities of the legislature have passed similar bills to repeal gross metering for the past two years, only to have those votes thwarted by Governor LePage’s backward, ideologically based vetoes.”
The bill now heads to Gov. Janet Mills, D-Maine, who is expected to sign it into law, says Voorhees.