Investors and customers receive credits and incentives for partaking in community solar programs in Maine, but a net metering petition threatens to take those away. As the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) reviews the details of the petition, upwards of 6,000 community solar projects are on hold.
Without the benefits originally offered by such community solar programs, the 6,000 community solar programs in Maine are at risk of being canceled outright. This would mean taking away an option for clean, renewable energy from potential customers. While the FERC sits on its decision regarding the petition, more than 57,000 individuals and 450 organizations have come together to submit their opposition to the petition. That contrasts the 22 organizations and people that were in support of it.
While the net metering petition could affect the entire country, Maine has stepped up to try and have it dissolved before it goes into effect. Three of the state’s four congressional delegates from the state have been vocally against the petition, including Senator Angus King (I). He and approximately 24 congresspeople addressed a letter to FERC and its chairman Neil Chatterjee, insisting that the petition be rejected.
Net metering offers additional perks to Maine residents, who receive a 100% credit for the energy they produce but don’t use. Some other states won’t be hit as hard if the petition passes because their customers already don’t receive the same 100% credit.
The petition came from the New England Ratepayers Association (NERA) and was first produced in April 2020. Part of NERA’s proposal is to change the credits provided by utilizing community solar into wholesale from retail. The change would prevent states from setting solar credit standards as that control would be given over to the federal government. According to the NERA and the petition’s supporters, providing the credits at the retail price ultimately increases the cost to lower-income ratepayers.
It’s suspected that several supporters of the petition, including the Taxpayers Protection Alliance and the Heartland Institute, have connections to the Koch brothers. They have been vocal about denying climate change and supporting the use of fossil fuels.