Despite Maine being the northeastern-most state in the nation with limited sunlight, the state has long had a commitment to sustainable energy. This is partly because the state gets a fair share of its energy from hydroelectric dams and uses wood and waste from its vast forest industry to generate electricity. According to DOE’s Energy Information Administration (EIA), “Maine generates a larger share of its electricity from nonhydroelectric renewable resources than any other state.”
According to EIA data, the state produces roughly a quarter of power used in the state from renewable resources, 20 percent from hydroelectric and 40 percent of its electricity from natural gas generation. To help its residents and businesses adopt more renewable energy like solar, wind and tidal power, the state is offering a fair share of incentives to residents and businesses.
Given its northern location, the amount of sunlight that hits Maine is less than the sunlight that hits states like Arizona and New Mexico, but the state still gets enough sunlight to justify photovoltaic (PV) systems. In fact, the state gets an average of 4.0 to 4.5 kilowatts per hour (kWh) of sunlight per square meter—about the same amount that Pennsylvania gets.
Under a law passed in 1999, the state has a renewable portfolio standard that requires utilities in Maine to generate 40 percent of their electric generation from renewable sources. However, between the wood biomass and hydroelectric power already in operation, the state met its goal, basically by the time the legislation passed. In 2007, it passed a law requiring 10 percent of all new electric generation by 2017 to come from renewable sources. The state also plans to build on its vast offshore wind resources. By 2030, the state plans to have roughly 8,000 megawatts of wind installed, with 5,000 MWs in its coastal waters or offshore.
In the summertime, tens of thousands swarm to Maine, nicknamed “The Vacation State,” to enjoy its cool, coastal weather, jagged coastline, and the lighthouses that protect ships from the granite coast—and among other things, its famous lobsters. But during the winter, Maine’s days are short, and temperatures are frigid.
For instance, the average high temperature in northern Maine during January is 19 degrees Fahrenheit, the average low is 0 degrees Fahrenheit. To combat this deep winter chill, roughly three-quarters of Maine’s homes use fuel oil to heat their homes, the highest share in the nation, EIA said. In addition to the rebates for photovoltaics and net metering programs, the state also is offering incentives for energy-efficiency projects that include properly insulating homes.
|Program Type||Net Metering|
|Technologies||Photovoltaics, Solar Hot Water Heating, Solar Thermal Electric, other renewable energy sources|
|Amount||Credited to customer at retail rate|
|Required Documentation||Interconnection agreement with utility|
|Official Web Site||http://www.maine.gov/mpuc/electricity/index.shtml|
All electric utilities in Maine are required to offer their customers net metering. While investor-owned utilities are required to offer net metering for systems up to 660 kW in size, municipal utilities and electric cooperatives are only required to net meter systems up to 100 kW in size, though they may choose to net meter systems up to 660 kW.
Customers may net meter systems that generate electricity with PV, solar thermal, geothermal, tidal power and other forms of renewables. There is no cap on how much a utility must net meter. But Maine’s Public Utilities Commission requires notification if a utility’s net-metered capacity reaches more than 1 percent of its total generating capacity.
Net excess generation produced by a customer in a month period is credited at the customer’s retail rate for up to 12 months. At the end of the 12-month period, any overall excess generation is credited to the utility with no compensation for the customer. The utility may choose to, at its own expense, install separate meters to measure both energy consumed and net excess generation.
Customers must sign a interconnection agreement with their utility. For systems under 10 kW in size, the application fee for the agreement is $50 plus $1 per kW. The state does not explain whether or not the customer must pay for a bi-directional meter or not.
|Program Type||Performance-based Incentive|
|Technologies||Photovoltaics, Solar Thermal Electric, Solar Hot Water Heating|
$0.10 per kWh or renewable energy credit worth 150 percent of the value of electricity generated
over life of contract
|Required Documentation||Application with the Maine Public Utilities Commission|
|Official Web Site|
The performance-based incentive pilot program was devised to encourage development of locally owned renewable energy resources. Overall, 50 megawatts (MW) of generating capacity can be permitted under the program. And individual system-owners can qualify for incentives on up to 10 MWs of generation. In addition, 10 MWs of power under the program are reserved for smaller installations—under 100 kW—like those installed at homes and small businesses.
Participants can qualify for an incentive of $0.10 per kWh generated under a long-term contract up to 20 years with their utility, or they can qualify for a renewable energy credit incentive worth 1.5 times the value of the electricity generated by the system.
To be eligible for the program, the system must be grid-tied and at least 51 percent of the system must be owned locally. Owners can include homeowners, local government entities, nonprofits and tribes. For projects larger than 100 kW, the municipality or tribe must provide documentation of community support for the project. Small generators need to contact their local utility to present their community-based certification and preferred contract terms. The utility will provide a standard contract form developed by the public utility commission, which must be returned by the system owner. The utility will then send the agreement to the commission.
|Technologies||Photovoltaics, Solar Space Heat, Solar Hot Water Heating, Wind Energy|
|Amount||Up to $2,000|
|Required Documentation||Solar Incentive Application Form|
|Official Web Site||http://www.efficiencymaine.com/renewable-energy/solar|
This highly popular first-come-first-serve program has been offered in Maine since 2005. Originally, it was funded at a rate of $500,000 annually, but the state increased funding for the program to $2.75 million for 2010, with some of the money coming from American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds. The program has been extended through 2015 and funding increased to $1 million annually, again partly because of ARRA funding. The state funds its portion of the program through a $0.005 cent, per kilowatt hour (kWh) assessment on utility electric generation.
The program is open to tenants as well as home and business-owners. For electricity-producing systems, applicants can qualify for a rebate of $2 per AC watt, up to a maximum of $2,000 for Maine homeowners installing PV or wind systems. Commercial companies can qualify for a rebate of up to $4,000 for installing wind generation at their facility. Solar thermal systems like water or space heating systems qualify for a rebate of up to $1,000 or 25 percent of system costs, whichever is less. However, new Energy Star homes or Maine Performance Homes can receive $1,500 for a solar thermal system.
To be eligible, people must apply for the rebate prior to purchasing or installing a system. Applicants can purchase their system after obtaining a reservation number for the rebate. To qualify for a PV rebate, the building must first undergo an energy audit and the results must be submitted to the program. PV systems must be installed by master electricians certified by NABCEP or one working with a NABCEP-certified installer and certified by the Maine’s Public Utilities Commission. Maine maintains a list of certified installers at the program’s page.
Sales Tax Refund
State Grant Program
State Loan Program
State Rebate Program
Utility Rebate Program
Rules, Regulations & Policies
Building Energy Code
Energy Standards for Public Buildings
Green Power Purchasing/Aggregation
Public Benefits Fund
Renewables Portfolio Standard
Solar Access Law/Guideline
Related Programs & Initiatives
The U.S. Department of Energy's Alternative Fuels and Advanced Vehicles Data Center (AFDC) provides a wide range of information and resources to enable the use of alternative fuels and other petroleum-reduction options, such as advanced vehicles, fuel blends, idle reduction and fuel economy. The AFDC site offers a database of state and federal laws and incentives related to alternative fuels and vehicles, air quality, fuel efficiency, and other transportation-related topics.
The U.S. Department of Energy's Green Power Network provides news and information on green power markets and activities, including opportunities to buy green power. This site provides state-by-state information on green power marketing and utility green power programs. In addition, the site lists marketers of renewable energy credits (RECs), also known as green tags or renewable energy certificates, which represent the environmental attributes of the power produced from renewable energy projects.
The U.S. Department of Energy's Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) enables low-income families to reduce their energy bills by making their homes more energy-efficient. Through this program, weatherization service providers install energy-efficiency measures in the homes of qualifying homeowners free of charge. The WAP program web site offers a state-by-state map of opportunities, projects and activities.
The U.S. Department of Energy's Wind Powering America site provides state-by-state information on wind projects and activities, including wind working groups, validated wind maps, anemometer loan programs, small wind guides, state-specific news, wind for schools, workshops and web casts.