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Energy Update, August 12

In the States

MA – Hoping to stabilize electricity rates and diversify the state’s energy portfolio, Governor Charlie Baker signed a new energy bill, An Act Relative to Energy Diversity, into law. The measure will require utilities to “competitively solicit and contract for approximately 1,200 megawatts of clean energy generation” from either hydropower, onshore wind and solar supported by hydropower, or standalone onshore wind and solar power sources. According to the National Wildlife Federation, the new law is the largest-ever state commitment to offshore wind power to date. The bill also establishes a commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy, or PACE, program “that will enable property owners to finance comprehensive energy efficiency and renewable energy upgrades that are repaid through a property tax assessment.” “Massachusetts is always at the forefront of adopting innovative clean energy solutions, and this legislation will allow us to build on that legacy and embrace increased amounts of renewable energy, including hydropower,” said Governor Baker. “With our partners in the Legislature, the Commonwealth has taken another major step towards providing residents and businesses with a cost-effective and reliable clean energy future.” MA Gov. signs comprehensive energy diversity legislationTransmission and Distribution and Newly-signed energy bill poised to jump-start offshore wind in Mass.NA Wind Power

ME – Governor Paul LePage has proposed an end to the state’s solar net metering program and policies, and favors replacing it with a market-based approach. The Governor believes net metering forces customers who do not use solar power “to pay an unfair share of maintaining the electric grid.” In his plan, the Governor proposes a three-year grandfather period to allow residents who have installed solar panels to recover some of their costs. After the three years, the plan still allows consumers who generate electricity from solar power to be compensated only for excess energy that aligns with the “real-time value of electricity in the region.” Patrick Woodcock, who directs the governor’s energy office, submitted the new proposal to regulators at the Maine Public Utilities Commission, which is expected to decide the state’s path sometime in the fall. LePage proposes end to solar net metering programMaine Public Broadcasting

NV – The state’s Public Utilities Commission (PUC) decided to phase out a subsidy for homeowners who install rooftop solar panels over the next 12 years. The decision follows a ruling by the state Supreme Court that a referendum challenging the PUC’s decision would not be allowed on this November’s ballot. According to the PUC, the state has subsidized roughly 17,000 customers each year, costing around $16 million per year, under the state’s net metering program, which is also being phased out. Paul Thomsen, who chairs the PUC, said “As the rooftop solar industry has gotten larger and larger, we've seen this subsidy grow. What started as a legislative policy to kickstart the industry, now 18 years later, it's time for that industry to stand on its own two feet.” A separate proposal to grandfather rates for certain customers producing electricity from solar energy will be reviewed by the state legislature next year. Nevada starts to pull the plug on solar subsidiesFox News

NY – Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that Exelon is planning to take over the FitzPatrick Nuclear Plant is Oswego, New York. The Governor said Exelon, which also promised to keep the plant operations for at least another 12 years, will save more than 600 jobs. Exelon already runs two adjacent nuclear power plants, the Nine Mile Point plants in Oswego and the Ginna plant near Rochester. The announcement by the Governor and Exelon come after the state’s Public Service Commission, which still needs to approve the sale of the FitzPatrick plant to Exelon, agreed to supply $8 billion in subsidies to help keep the state’s nuclear plants open. “Saving these plants is part of our clean energy plan,” Governor Cuomo said. “If you lose the nuclear component, then it would make you much more reliant on other sources,” like natural gas and oil, which the Governor said would increase carbon emissions. FitzPatrick sale will keep nuclear as part of NY’s future energy mixNorth Country Public Radio

PR – Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla signed legislation into law that would “expedite the connection of consumers’ renewable energy systems to the Commonwealth’s Electric Power Authority utility, also known as Prepa. The bill requires Prepa to have power meters that can be read remotely while also mandating that Prepa develop an expedited process for power distributors with a capacity that is lower than one megawatt to connect to the utility’s grid. The territory first enacted net-metering legislation in 2007, allowing certain nonresidential systems and residential customers with a generating capacity of 25 kilowatts to transfer electricity they do not use back to the Commonwealth’s grid. Governor enacts law expediting net-metering connectionsCaribbean Business

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