An increasing number of businesses are promoting the advantages of community solar projects to electric consumers searching for a solution to cut their rates. They enable customers to subscribe to a portion of the Power generated by new solar systems in exchange for bill credits once the project is operational. However, community solar projects in Maine aren’t expected to save money. Many of the hundreds of projects proposed in the three years since Maine opened the door to community solar are unlikely to be completed, as they queue to connect to an electric grid that isn’t designed for a profusion of smaller-scale solar installations.
Recent revisions to Maine’s community solar programme have left the state’s programme in shambles. Legislation passed in 2019 allowed both in-state and out-of-state solar firms to submit proposals for community solar projects. Since then, developers have proposed over 600 projects across the state, all of which have requested to be connected to the electric grid.
However, legislation passed last year effectively halted the flood of new proposals by limiting the size of projects eligible for the community solar programme and imposing new requirements on those projects, such as a signed agreement with either Versant Power or Central Maine Power Co. to connect to their distribution networks.
These agreements are frequently negotiated after utilities have examined the effects of new projects on their systems’ infrastructure, which can take years. Last year’s legislation also imposed new restrictions retroactively on projects that were already underway. The programme has a number of flaws, according to developers, utilities, and the state’s top advocate for ratepayers.