If enacted into law as drafted, the bill would direct the Maine Public Utilities Commission to hold a series of four annual competitive solicitations by January 1, 2022. Each solicitation would seek to procure 30 megawatts of large-scale community solar distributed generation resources.
Through an initial solicitation to be held by March 1, 2018, the Commission would set a uniform clearing price or "standard solar rate" for all awarded bids in the initial procurement. Subsequent procurements would be subject to a declining block contract rate, under which the Commission would reduce the rate relative to the previous procurement by up to 3%. But if the Commission were to conclude that a subsequent solicitation was not competitive, no bidders may be selected and the capacity available in that solicitation will be deferred to a subsequent solicitation.
Any resource selected for contracting would be offered a standard contract for a term of 20 years at the specified contract rate. The resources' counterparty would be a "standard buyer" whose mission would be to "aggregate the output of the portfolio of distributed generation resources procured pursuant to this chapter and sell or use the output of these resources in a manner that maximizes the value of this portfolio of resources to all ratepayers." Initially, the bill designates each investor-owned transmission and distribution utility as the standard buyer for its own service territory, but it would allow the Commission to designate another entity if doing so is in the best interest of ratepayers. The benefits and costs of the procurement, shall be tracked and reviewed annually, and any gains would be allocated to from ratepayers of the project's host utility -- just as any losses would be recovered from those ratepayers.
On the project side, LD 1444 would establish a sponsor/subscriber model for large-scale community solar distributed generation resources. A project sponsor would own or operate the resource. A customer could subscribe for a proportional interest in such a resource, sized to represent at least one kilowatt of the resource's generating capacity. Several additional requirements include:
- The total expected annual value of all of a customer's subscriptions must not exceed 120% of the customer's most recent annual electricity bill.
- At least 50% of the subscriptions to a large-scale community solar distributed generation resource must be for 25 kilowatts or less, unless a municipality accounts for more than 50% of the subscriptions to a large-scale community solar distributed generation resource.
- A municipality may not account for more than 70% of the subscriptions to a large-scale community solar distributed generation resource.
LD 1444 is scheduled for a public hearing before the Committee on Energy, Utilities and Technology on April 27, 2017.