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January 29, 2019

Bill proposes to roll back ‘gross metering’ rule impacting residential solar users

Photo / Tim Greenway
Photo / Tim Greenway
The Legislature’s Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee will hold a public hearing today on LD 91, a bill to eliminate the “gross metering” rule enacted under Gov. Paul LePage that solar power advocates say is stifling the growth of the renewable energy industry in Maine.

The Legislature's Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee will hold a public hearing today on LD 91, a bill to eliminate the "gross metering" rule enacted under Gov. Paul LePage that solar power advocates say is stifling the growth of the renewable energy industry in Maine.

In the face of criticism from the business and industrial sectors last year, the Maine Public Utilities Commission suspended gross metering for those sectors, according to a news release from Natural Resources Council of Maine, which supports the bill.

LD 91, "An Act to Eliminate Gross Metering," would terminate the fee for residential solar systems. Legislation similar to LD 91 received overwhelming bipartisan support in 2018, but was defeated as a result of a veto by LePage.

The committee's public hearing on LD 91 is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. today in Room 211 of the Cross Building in Augusta.

The bill is cosponsored by Rep. Seth Berry, D-Bowdoinham, and Sen. David Woodsome, R-Senate District 33.

"This bill will eliminate one of the most anti-solar energy provisions in the nation, a penalty on Maine homeowners who are seeking to increase their energy independence," said Dylan Voorhees, NRCM's climate and clean energy project director. "The gross metering provision created a fee on energy produced and used within a home, akin to grocery stores charging people who reduce their produce purchases by growing their own tomatoes."

NRCM stated that passage of LD 91 would help set the stage for "comprehensive legislation being considered to greatly expand solar energy that will benefit all Mainers by making it easier for residents, businesses, and towns to build new solar and create high-quality green jobs."

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