In an initial vote, the Maine House supports a bill that would re-establish incentives that allow homeowners to receive credits on their electric bill for energy fed back into the power grid.
by Kevin Miller, Staff Writer
Portland Press Herald news story
AUGUSTA — The Maine House gave initial approval Tuesday to a bill that would rewrite the state’s solar energy policies, including by reviving incentives that allow homeowners to receive credits for excess electricity.
With a 93-48 vote, the House took a step toward restoring the “net metering” or “net energy billing” policies that are currently being phased out in Maine. Also known as “net energy billing,” the policy allows owners of solar energy systems to receive credits on their electric bills for power fed back into the grid.
The bill, L.D. 91, would also eliminate a “gross metering” policy that requires owners of solar energy systems to install an additional meter – paid for by all ratepayers – to monitor the output of solar panels.
Bill sponsor Rep. Seth Berry, D-Bowdoinham, said the additional meter required by the Maine Public Utilities Commission “makes no sense” and already has cost ratepayers $2.5 million.
“The policy, in effect, is somewhat like growing your own tomatoes in your own backyard and then having the grocery store – the local Hannaford or Shaw’s – charging you for that tomato because you did not purchase it from them,” Berry said.
But Rep. Jeffery Hanley, R-Pittston, repeated the criticism that “net metering” largely benefits homeowners who have the disposable income to pay to install solar panels.
The bill faces additional votes in the House as well as votes in the Senate, which is more closely divided between Democrats and Republicans. The 93-48 vote in the House was just shy of the two-thirds majority needed – upon final passage – to make the law effective immediately as an “emergency measure” rather than 90 days after the Legislature adjourns.