An Act To Create a Smart Grid Policy in the State
Emergency preamble. Whereas, acts and resolves of the Legislature do not become effective until 90 days after adjournment unless enacted as emergencies; and
Whereas, the State currently lacks a unified state policy on smart grid energy infrastructure but faces critical decisions regarding the implementation of smart grid technology and the creation of such a unified smart grid policy; and
Whereas, the cost of electricity to consumers in the State is high compared with costs in similar markets elsewhere and impedes economic development in the State; and
Whereas, the State has recognized the consequences of climate change and has committed to policies to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases; and
Whereas, the State's electric grid and long-term infrastructure investment are vital to continued security and economic development, and a smart grid will deliver electricity from suppliers to consumers using modern technology to increase reliability, save energy, reduce costs and enable greater consumer choice; and
Whereas, it is vital that a unified smart grid policy be developed to ensure that all ratepayers and the State as a whole are afforded the benefits of smart grid infrastructure; and
Whereas, in the judgment of the Legislature, these facts create an emergency within the meaning of the Constitution of Maine and require the following legislation as immediately necessary for the preservation of the public peace, health and safety; now, therefore,
Sec. 1. 35-A MRSA §3143 is enacted to read:
§ 3143. Declaration of policy on smart grid infrastructure
Sec. 2. Examination of creation of reliability utility. The Public Utilities Commission shall undertake an examination of the need for and feasibility of creating or designating a smart grid company in each transmission and distribution utility service territory to facilitate a rapid increase in the use of smart grid functions as defined in the Maine Revised Statutes, Title 35-A, section 3143. For purposes of this section, a smart grid company is a company that is jointly owned as follows: the majority ownership of the company is held by an entity, such as GridSolar, L.L.C., that has a strong interest in aggressively pursuing the purposes of this section and the minority ownership of the company is held by the transmission and distribution utility in whose service territory the company will provide services. If the commission determines that creating or designating such companies is feasible and an appropriate means of achieving the purposes of this section, the commission shall develop recommendations for how to create or designate such companies; otherwise the commission shall recommend alternative means of facilitating a rapid increase in the use of smart grid functions. The commission shall report its findings and recommendations to the joint standing committee of the Legislature having jurisdiction over utilities and energy matters no later than January 15, 2011. The joint standing committee may report out legislation regarding the subject matter of the commission's report to the First Regular Session of the 125th Legislature. Notwithstanding Title 35-A, section 3211-A, subsection 5, the commission may use up to $100,000 of the funds in the conservation program fund to pay for its costs in undertaking the examination required under this section.
Emergency clause. In view of the emergency cited in the preamble, this legislation takes effect when approved.
This bill establishes a state policy on smart grid infrastructure including employment of a smart grid to improve power reliability as well as the overall efficiency of the power resource and delivery system while reducing energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions and costs to consumers, in part by offering consumers greater choice and information about their electricity consumption. The state policy ensures that deployment of a smart grid is done in a manner that is consistent with applicable safety, security and reliability standards. The bill includes legislative findings regarding the high cost of electricity to consumers, the need for smart grid electric infrastructure, the lack of a state policy on smart grid infrastructure and the need for such a policy.
The bill allows transmission and distribution utilities to recover reasonable costs associated with creating a smart grid. It also directs the Public Utilities Commission to examine the need for and feasibility of creating or designating a special entity in each transmission and distribution utility service territory to facilitate a rapid increase in the availability and use of smart grid functions.