Maine Commission Begins Implementing Net Metering Changes to Expand Customer Access

The Maine Public Utilities Commission launched a proceeding to implement amendments to its net energy billing rule, following legislation enacted in June that broadened access to the program, including expanding the capacity of eligible facilities to 5 megawatts, up from the previous 660 kilowatts, according to an Aug. 21 notice.

The law expands the customer eligibility criteria by replacing the ownership requirement with a “financial interest” in the project, allowing the inclusion of a lease agreement or a power purchase arrangement. The bill also establishes a new commercial and institutional net energy billing program, which provides a tariff for grid-exported energy based on the standard offer rate for the customer plus 75 percent of the transmission and distribution utility rate for the class that includes the smallest commercial customers. Moreover, the law removes limits on the number of meters or accounts that can be associated with a qualifying facility.

The legislation includes other provisions to promote distributed generation, including lifting the nine-person limit on the number of customers who can participate in a community project and requiring competitive procurement of 375 megawatts over the next five years.

In July, the agency implemented changes to reinstate net metering in response to legislation enacted in April that eliminated the gross metering policy, which was adopted in 2017.

Initial and final comments on the proposed changes are due by Sept. 11 and Sept. 30, respectively. The commission will hold a public hearing on Sept. 16.