Maine homeowners contemplating converting to solar just got more motivation to make the change sooner rather than later, following a new proposal, which hopes to phase out state funded solar incentives over the next decade.
The good news is that current solar homeowners and those who manage to make the switch and get grandfathered into their rates before the proposal is voted on, will retain their net metering benefits for the next 15 years.
The Main Public Utilities Commission (PUC) proposed the solar incentive change at a state commission hearing on Sept 13, claiming that since solar energy powers about 1 percent of the state’s usage it’s time to reconsider the decades old program
According to the Portland Press Herald the PUC’s plan is to cut compensation for homeowners that aren’t grandfathered into the old rates by 10 percent a year for a decade until homeowners will shoulder the costs of solar themselves, without any net metering or other state benefits.
Compared to an alternative plan sought by Maine’s Republican Governor LePage, the PUC’s timeline is viewed as much more lenient. Earlier this year, LePage’s office filed a recommendation to phase out benefits for solar homeowners over the next three years.
The PUC’s recent proposal comes as a starting point for reopening compensation discussions regarding Maine’s solar market. Later this year, new legislation is scheduled to be discussed regarding how new incentive models might help stimulate solar growth in the state, while also alleviating some the financial burden from its power company.
The recent discussions on solar incentives in Maine is indicative of the trends in the rest of the New England region. According to the North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center at North Carolina State University, nearly two thirds of the states with net metering policies are reconsidering them, with seven looking to impose caps on net metering capacity.