MAINE – On November 3, the Maine Public Utilities Commission issued a rulemaking procedure and proposed rules for a Community-Based Renewable Energy Pilot Program. The proposed rules can be found on the MPUC website, by searching under Case ID 2009363. This proceeding is a result of L.D. 1075, passed in June 2009.
According to the act, community projects must be “locally owned electricity generating facilities,” which means that 51% or more of the facility must be owned by “qualifying local owners.” Once qualified as a community-based renewable energy project, the facility has the option to elect one of two incentive mechanisms: 1) a long-term contract for the output of the facility with a transmission and distribution (T&D) utility; or 2) a renewable energy credit (REC) multiplier (in which the value of the REC is 150% of the amount of the produced electricity). The PUC is also authorized to incorporate energy from community-based renewable energy projects into the standard offer supply.
The act specifies a total installed capacity limit of 50 MW as well as a capacity limit of 10 MW for each individual qualifying project. It additionally requires that 10 MW of the total 50 MW limit be reserved at the outset of the program for systems less than 100 kW or qualified generation in the service territory of consumer-owned Transmission & Distribution utilities.
The proposal set a contract price for both solar and wind energy. The price may vary over the course of a year, but the average price, weighted on the expected output of the facility, may not exceed $0.10/kWh for both solar and wind projects. The PUC will set prices for other types of generation systems at the request of a project generator. It is important to note that the proposed rule does not require small generators to sell capacity or RECs to the utility. The PUC is seeking comments on whether the rule should allow for utilities to obtain the value of capacity or RECs for ratepayers through some type of aggregation process when the program participant is not otherwise obtaining any value.
The PUC will hold a hearing on December 4, 2009, to discuss the matter further.