|The Maine State House, home to a consideration of feed-in tariffs.|
A bill proposed by Maine state senator Christopher Johnson would require the state Public Utilities Commission to establish a renewable energy resources feed-in tariff program. An Act To Establish the Renewable Energy Feed-in Tariff, also known as LD 1085, has the stated purpose of encouraging the rapid and sustainable development of renewable energy resources and technology for environmentally healthy generation of electricity. Like feed-in tariffs in other jurisdictions, it would require that utilities purchase renewably produced electricity from all qualified suppliers. It would have the Public Utilities Commission set the rate that electric utilities must pay for such power at a level sufficient to provide revenues to operate and to attract necessary capital and investment for small renewable electric generators.
Qualified suppliers would be limited to certain small renewable electric generators. As defined in the bill, such generators would be limited to systems up to 500 kilowatts in size, that are majority owned by a person or entity that owns less than 500 kilowatts of electricity generating capacity in Maine, and that use solar photovoltaic panels or solar thermal or concentrating solar systems, generators fueled by methane from sewage treatment facilities, landfills or agricultural waste, generators fueled by combustion of biomass, tidal power projects, or wind energy.
Existing Maine law provides incentives for the generation of electricity from renewable resources. Like most states, Maine has a renewable portfolio standard which requires electricity suppliers to source a specified portion of their power from renewable generators. Maine also has a community-based renewable energy pilot program which functions like a feed-in tariff for eligible projects. A feed-in tariff would add another incentive to build relatively small (non-utility-scale) projects.
LD 1085 has not yet been scheduled for a public hearing. It will likely come before the Joint Standing Committee on Energy, Utilities and Technology later this spring.