Senator Lawrence, Representative Berry, and distinguished members of the Energy, Utilities, and Technology Committee. My name is David Costello. I am the Climate and Clean Energy Program Director at the Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM), and I am testifying today in support of LD 709, A Resolve to Provide a Brief Moratorium on Certain New Net Energy Billing Arrangements and to Examine the Costs and Benefits of Net Energy Billing.
Addressing Climate Change and Bolstering Maine’s Economy
Strengthening Maine’s in-state solar energy generation and distribution programs is central to our efforts to reduce the harmful health, economic, and environmental impacts of climate change. It is also crucial to maximizing the tremendous employment and economic opportunities associated with Maine’s clean energy transition. A transition that is already supporting hundreds of Maine jobs and businesses; lowering electricity bills; increasing state and local revenues; and helping to build a more reliable, and resilient electric grid.
While the Benefits of Distributed Solar Outweigh Costs, Some Program Adjustments May Be Welcome
Governor Mills and the Maine Legislature are to be commended for enacting landmark legislation in 2019 that has significantly accelerated the development and distribution of solar energy projects throughout the state. Maine, which has been well behind most northeastern states in generating and benefitting from solar energy, is now on track to increase its in-state solar generation six-fold by 2025. Given this veritable explosion in solar projects it makes sense for us to step back a bit and review the impact of Maine’s popular Net Energy Billing (NEB) program.
LD 709 proposes to do exactly that for certain NEB projects. Specifically, LD 709 recommends placing a brief pause on new, 2MW to 5 MW NEB projects and directs the Governor’s Energy Office to convene a stakeholder group to examine the costs and benefits of NEB to determine if any changes to existing laws are necessary. NRCM believes this to be a reasonable course of action and strongly supports LD 709, and urges its quick passage. Thank you for your consideration, and I welcome any questions you may have.