After more than a year of pre-rulemaking process including the issuance of two drafts, the Maine DEP has commenced formal rulemaking and today issued draft rules for wind energy developments in Maine. The formal draft largely tracks the most recent pre-rulemaking version issued in January 2017. The draft rules include standards for evaluating scenic impacts, limits on shadow flicker, provisions related to public safety, and requirements for demonstrating significant tangible benefits.
According to an article in Maritime Executive, offshore renewable power developers are about to sign an agreement for the construction of islands in the middle of the North Sea as bases for offshore wind facilities. As the article states: “[t]he generated wind energy could then be distributed from the islands over direct current lines to the North Sea countries of the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Great Britain, Norway and Belgium. Transmission cables would simultaneously function as interconnectors between the energy markets of the countries, so that besides transmitting wind electricity to the connected countries, the countries could also trade electricity.”
Since September, solar stakeholders have been participating in regular work sessions at the Maine Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to develop an alternative to Maine’s current net metering rules. Net metering or “net energy billing” allows utility customers who also generate some of their own power (with solar panels, for example) to pay only for the difference between the energy they generate and the energy they consume. This straightforward concept exists in some form in more than 40 states. But as rooftop solar continues to expand, utilities are beginning to seek alternatives to net metering rules around the country.
Last week the Portland Press Herald reported that the Maine Public Utilities Commission will direct Maine’s transmission and distribution utilities to enter into a long-term contract with Dirigo Solar for the construction of up to 75 MW of new solar installations across the state.
The Commission was especially pleased with the price offered by Dirigo. According to a term sheet filed with the Commission last month, the price will be $35/MWh for all of the energy and capacity benefits generated by the solar projects. The price will increase by 2.5% annually over a total term of 20 years. These terms compare very favorably with other long-term renewable contracts approved by the Commission.
Count Maine “in” as one of the 18 states filing a motion to intervene to defend the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s (“EPA” or “Agency”) Clean Power Plan (“Rule”). A coalition including 24 states wasted little time filing suit against the much-anticipated final Rule after it was posted in the Federal Register on October 23. The coalition alleges that the Rule is an overreach of the authority delegated to the Agency by Congress and more specifically, Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act cannot be used to regulate greenhouse gases. The petitioners are asking the court to stay the Rule while the suit is pending and ultimately, invalidate it as ultra vires.