NECEC Clean Energy Industry Update
On Thursday, April 11th, the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) will hold a public hearing on its draft Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) Study, issued March 19, 2013. The draft Study relates to pending legislation (Substitute Bill 1138) to modify Connecticut's RPS and give DEEP authority to require long term contracts for renewable and clean energy. NECEC's VP, Policy & Government Affairs Janet Gail Besser testified at last week's Technical Meeting on the RPS Study, and will attend this Thursday's public hearing. Written comments on the draft RPS Study are due April 19, 2013 and the final Study is expected in mid-May.
On April 11, 2013, the Maine Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee will hold public hearings on two natural gas bills that promote expansion of natural gas infrastructure and service in Maine by using the State as a "backstop" for financing these projects.
On April 9, the Committee will hold a public hearing on LD 1146 An Act to Encourage the Use of Renewable Energy (net metering bill). The bill removes impediments to net metering - credits do not expire, credits are transferrable, no ownership requirement to qualify, no limit on number of meters and increasing the generating capacity eligibility to 2 MW from 660 kW. This bill is intended to further stimulate the development of community-scale renewable energy projects, and is supported by NECEC.
This week, Governor LePage is expected to introduce a bill that includes the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) cap reduction. In Maine, legislative approval is required for the cap reduction, and there is debate over how the funds generated by RGGI are spent. NECEC strongly advocates that RGGI monies be dedicated to energy efficiency and clean energy programs.
On April 9, 2013, the Revenue Committee held a hearing on several clean energy related bills, including bills addressing solar property taxes, electric vehicles and municipal bidding requirements for renewable contracts.
The Department of Energy Resources is reviewing changes to the current SREC program and accepting comments on the SREC program for solar developed post the current 400 MW goal. Comments were due April 8, 2013. NECEC attended the stakeholder meeting and public hearing on rule changes to the current program as well as the post 400 MW program and is filing comments.
All bills have crossed from their originating bodies (Senate or House) to the remaining body. Many attempts to place a moratorium on wind projects did not succeed. This issue will be explored as part of the ongoing investigation into the state's Site Evaluation Committee process, which will continue through the session and into the summer.
Two RPS Bills, HB 542 and SB 148 are in committee (HB 542 is in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and SB 148 is in the House Science, Tech and Energy Committee). HB 542 will be heard in the Senate on Wednesday 4/10 at 9:30 in the Legislative Office Building. Key sponsors and lobbyists are working on how to best merge these bills.
The group net-metering bill, SB 98, passed the Senate unanimously and is now in the House. NECEC hopes to make improvements on the bill and the progress it has made so far, clarifying the participation of third-party PPA owners and how the NH PUC will assign utility billing information system costs to participants.
Other bills to be heard in the House include SB 191, the state energy plan bill, and SB 123, assigning RGGI proceeds to municipalities. The House RGGI bill (HB 306) allowing NH to agree to a lowered regional CO2 cap is now in the Senate. These bills have not yet been scheduled for hearing but significant communication is underway among various stakeholders and legislators.