On April 30th, Governor John Baldacci of Maine signed a significant reform bill (LD 336) on net billing to allow for shared ownership, an increase in eligible system size to 660 kW, and to expand the eligible technology to include micro-CHP with any technology and any fuel. Earlier in January, the Maine Public Utilities Commission had adopted draft rules that would amend the current net energy billing rule to allow net billing for customers who share in the ownership of an eligible facility with a capacity of 500 kW or less (PUC Easy Web, Case 2008-410). As a “significant emergency measure” it needed to be approved by the Legislature. The Commission asked the Legislature to make the policy determination whether to add other technologies and fuels such as efficient combined heat and power (CHP). This bill went into effect immediately upon receiving the governor’s signature.
Among other things, the legislation raises the upper size limits for all eligible technologies to 660 kW covering 600 kW wind turbines currently being planned and installed in Maine. The bill also extended net metering to micro-combined heat and power (micro-CHP) utilizing any technology and any fuel and it set the highest legislated efficiency standard for CHP in the United States, i.e. minimum of 80% on systems up to 30 kW. CHP systems from 31 to 660 kW are also eligible to net meter if they achieve a minimum of 65% efficiency. Existing law already permitted net metering of wind, solar, tidal, hydro, fuel cell, biomass systems and generators fueled by municipal solid waste recycling.
The amendment also allows wind turbines and other facilities up to 660 kW to have shared ownership similar to those in Europe. It also allows these to net meter across the interconnecting utility service territory. The approved rules remove the facility vicinity requirement and allow for the net billing of accounts across a utility’s service territory. In most other respects, the basic structure of the current net billing rules has been incorporated in the approved net billing rules, particularly the annualized kilowatt-hour credit treatment of excess generation.