On Wednesday, one of the largest environmental organisation of Maine, took pledge to “pursue every opportunity” to reverse the much controversial solar energy rules, which were adopted by the states’ Public Utilities Commission (PUC).
In January, this year, PUC permitted new rules surrounding the change in “net metering” strategies. As per the original policy, the homeowners would get credits on their electric bills if they fed excess solar energy back into the grid. But, as per the new policy, finalised on Wednesday, the homeowners who have already installed the solar panels shall continue to reap the benefits of the power they produce for the next 15 years, at the full retail rate. But, on the other hand, those owners who install solar panel system in the year 2018 or later would witness their credits reduced over time.
These new policies adopted but the PUC received a strong condemnation from environmental groups and installation companies, as well as by the Gov. Paul LePage. He is a critic of the state’s renewable energy resources policies.
‘The Natural Resources Council’ of the state of Maine denounced the 3-member PUC for approving “some of the most extreme anti-solar elements in the nation.” NRCM’s clean energy and climate director, Dylan Voorhees, said that such rules would “stifle investment in clean, local, solar power.” He also accused the board of adopting the policy without actual analyzation of costs and benefits of net-metering.
Voorhees said in a written statement that NRCM would not simply sit back, they will take hold of every opportunity, so as to overturn the extreme anti-solar rules formulated by the PUC. The written statement expressed that, “The best and swiftest solution is for the Legislature to enact an effective law to move Maine forward this session, before these extreme rules take effect at the end of 2017. The Legislature should be setting solar policy in Maine, not the PUC. With others, NRCM is also likely to file a ‘motion for reconsideration’ with the PUC, giving them one last chance to set aside these extreme changes.”
Having said that, it is still unclear whether the Legislature would pass such a bill to make it into law. Last year, the Legislature fell short of 2 votes for overriding LePage’s-veto of a bill to restore Maine’s solar policy. However, this year both the Senate and House seem even more divided, than that was seen during 2016 legislative session.
It is not the environment organisations who were displeased, even the Conservation Law Foundation expressed their disapproval over the new policy.