Bill Opalka, Energy News Network
Amid complaints that the state’s current law is unworkable, legislators revive a vetoed bill under a new governor.
Maine lawmakers are trying again after a veto last year to fix a microgrid law that critics say make the projects unworkable in the state.
Microgrids are permitted under Maine law, but there is no clear path for a community to develop one if a utility is already providing electric service. Recent projects have required unique circumstances, including participation by utilities.
A year ago, a bipartisan measure passed by the Legislature would have allowed state regulators to approve construction of microgrids “that serve the public interest,” but it was vetoed by former Gov. Paul LePage.
Current Gov. Janet Mills is pursuing an aggressive clean energy agenda and her legislative colleagues have introduced virtually the same bill that was vetoed last year, now known as LD 13.
Rep. Mick Devin, the bill’s prime sponsor, said he was inspired by a trip to Vermont, where he observed how Green Mountain Power was working to integrate clean energy into its power system. “It’s an example of how Maine might move forward on energy policy, particularly via the establishment of microgrids,” Devin said.
LD 13 would create a process through which the Maine Public Utilities Commission could approve the construction and operation of new microgrids.
The microgrid could serve load no larger than 10 megawatts, generation would have to be located nearby and contribute to the state’s renewable portfolio standard. The operator also could not be an investor-owned utility or affiliate.