Committee on Energy, Utilities and Technology have yet to schedule hearing for bill proposing significant changes to Maine’s Renewable Portfolio Standard

Maine’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) established, among other things, a 10 year timetable for having 10% of Maine’s electricity coming from new renewable sources by 2017. LD 1494, An Act to Reform Maine’s Renewable Portfolio Standard, looks to establish a new timetable for reaching 50% by 2030 as well changing several other RPS guidelines.

Sen. Eloise Vitelli (D- Sagadhoc) and several co-sponsors introduced the bill on April 4th, and in addition to the new timetable, they’re proposing at least 5 other changes to Maine’s RPS.

The bill calls for an entirely new portfolio requirement, demanding 4% of Maine’s electricity come from thermal energy plants by 2029. It also establishes a new guideline for hydroelectric generators wanting to qualify as a new renewable resource.

Hydroelectric facilities applying as a “new renewable” would need to have a percentage of their total output going to Maine’s distribution system. There’s no guarantee how much of that percentage would receive the above market rate tied to new renewable resources but to even participate in 2020, 40% of their output must be going to Maine’s grid. That percentage increases annually until hitting 100% of a hydro-facility’s output by 2026.

Because of the state of hydroelectric across Maine & New England, this change would mainly affect Quebec-Hydro but only if LD 1027, or something like it, were to pass as well.

LD 1494 also adds an additional requirement for energy producers investing in efficiency upgrades or adopting renewables. They’d have to show the Maine PUC that the facility’s upgrades were necessary to be viable.into the future.

Another RPS rule currently states that for a renewable resource to be considered “new”, the facility’s peak output capacity must be less than 100 MW. Wind projects are exempt from this 100 MW cap and LD 1494 would exempt solar installations as well.

The bill also calls for a level of stability and predictability within the RPS market by having the Maine PUC to set up long term contracts covering half of the total load required by Maine’s RPS.