LD 1986 keeps Maine moving forward toward climate goals while protecting ratepayers from overstated costs

AUGUSTA, MAINE — Leaders of Maine’s renewable energy community today voiced support for LD 1986, a bill introduced by Energy Utilities and Technology Chairman Senator Mark Lawrence to reform Maine’s Net Energy Billing (NEB) program, strengthen the development of cost effective Maine-made solar, and deliver relief to low-to-moderate income customers by taking advantage of significant federal dollars that are available.

“Sen. Lawrence’s bill provides a sensible framework for the future of community solar in Maine,” said Kate Daniel, Northeast Regional Director of the Coalition for Community Solar Access (CCSA). “It provides the state a way forward towards an affordable and equitable energy future, without jeopardizing the great progress we’ve made toward fulfilling Maine’s renewable energy goals.”

Supporters of LD 1986 include: the Maine Renewable Energy Association (MREA), ReVision Energy, Natural Resources Council of Maine, Maine Conservation Voters, A Climate to Thrive, Acadia Center, the Northeast Clean Energy Council, Maine Audubon, and the Coalition for Community Solar Access. 

Renewable energy advocates are praising Sen. Lawrence’s approach to reforming NEB, in contrast to the potentially disastrous proposal put forward last week by the Office of the Public Advocate (OPA) and supported by Central Maine Power.

“The OPA’s proposal is simply bad policy, and will send Maine backwards while doing grave damage to our state’s ability to attract new clean energy investment at reasonable prices,” said Jeremy Payne, Executive Director of MREA. “We applaud Senator Lawrence for his thoughtful approach to cost effectively support Maine solar by putting forward a logical set of solutions that protects Maine consumers, accelerates the growth of our clean energy economy, and safeguards the future of renewable development in Maine.”

LD 1986 makes reforms to NEB to address the concerns of both the renewable energy industry and consumer advocates. The bill would: 

  • Create transparency about the costs and benefits of NEB, shedding much-needed light on the important benefits that community solar projects provide to Maine and protecting ratepayers from overpaying based on speculative utility projections. 
  • Lay the foundation for a new program going forward based on collaborative work already done by a broad stakeholder working group, which recommended cost-effective program elements such as incorporating energy storage, ensuring municipal and nonprofit customers can participate, and providing benefits to low-to-moderate income customers. 
  • Allow for the continued development of local, Maine-made solar that directs benefits to low-income customers, capitalizes on available federal funds, and reduces costs to ratepayers. 
  • Avoid violating existing contracts that would harm thousands of solar customers. 

“Senator Lawrence’s bill affirms the critical importance of affordability for Maine’s energy consumers,” said Fortunat Mueller, President and Co-Founder of Revision Energy. “It recognizes that thoughtful policy and regulatory certainty will provide renewable energy developers the opportunity to continue to invest in Maine, drive down costs for all ratepayers, and support the progress our state has made in becoming a clean energy and climate leader.” 

Environmental and clean energy advocates commend Sen. Lawrence for taking action to protect Maine’s climate legacy. Solar energy remains critical to meeting the bold climate and energy goals established by Governor Mills, and LD 1986 is the necessary step to pave the path forward to a cleaner, healthier, and safer future. 

LD 1986 is currently being considered by the Energy, Utilities, and Technology (EUT) Committee.