Independent report on Maine’s solar program provides insights to policymakers

Posted on: April 23, 2021

Maine’s net energy billing program was significantly expanded in 2019 with the passage of LD 1711, “An Act To Promote Solar Energy Projects and Distributed Generation Resources in Maine.” The expansion included provisions for community solar that allow projects up to 5 MW to be shared by large groups of customers. The net energy billing program features review processes that are triggered when executed net energy billing agreements exceed 10% of a utility’s annual peak demand. When program participation in Central Maine Power’s territory triggered this review in 2020, solar advocates saw an opportunity to inform the conversation.

To further the conversation about the value of solar in Maine, our team was engaged by the Coalition for Community Solar Access to develop an independent analysis of the costs and benefits of the state’s net energy billing program. The purpose of this analysis was to expand the information available to Maine’s legislature and public utilities commission as both consider potential changes to the program.

“This study makes it clear: community solar and Maine’s Net Energy Billing program have been incredibly successful,” said Kaitlin Kelly O’Neill, Northeast Regional Director for the Coalition for Community Solar Access.

Our analysis was completed in March 2021 and presented to Maine’s Committee on Energy, Utilities and Technology and a broader stakeholder group including the Governor’s Energy Office and the Public Utilities Commission.  The analysis concludes that Maine’s net energy billing program provides net benefits to Maine’s customers based on the value of bulk power system benefits and societal benefits. “Helping decision-makers navigate their way toward a decarbonized future is a fundamental part of our business,” said Carrie Gilbert, Managing Consultant. “We believe the additional information regarding the full value of solar, one that includes the environmental and economic impacts, will be helpful to the Commission and other government officials in their evaluation of the highly successful net energy billing program.”