An Act Regarding Large-scale Community Solar Procurement
Sec. 1. 35-A MRSA §3471-A is enacted to read:
§ 3471-A. Definitions
As used in this chapter, unless the context otherwise indicates, the following terms have the following meanings.
Sec. 2. 35-A MRSA §3473, sub-§§3 and 4 are enacted to read:
Sec. 3. 35-A MRSA §§3475 to 3477 are enacted to read:
§ 3475. Standard buyer
The standard buyer designated pursuant to this section must aggregate the output of the portfolio of distributed generation resources procured pursuant to this chapter and sell or use the output of these resources in a manner that maximizes the value of this portfolio of resources to all ratepayers.
Customers receiving service at a transmission or subtransmission voltage level as defined in section 10110, subsection 6 are excluded from paying any costs or receiving benefits associated with the procurement of distributed generation resources pursuant to this chapter.
§ 3476. Large-scale community solar procurement
At least 50% of the subscriptions to a large-scale community solar distributed generation resource must be for 25 kilowatts or less, unless a municipality accounts for more than 50% of the subscriptions to a large-scale community solar distributed generation resource. A municipality may not account for more than 70% of the subscriptions to a large-scale community solar distributed generation resource.
The monthly output available for allocation as subscribed or unsubscribed energy must be determined by a revenue-grade meter installed and paid for by the project sponsor.
The commission through its own counsel or through the Attorney General may apply to the Superior Court of any county of the State to enforce any lawful order made or action taken by the commission pursuant to this subsection. The court may issue such orders, preliminary or final, as it considers proper under the facts established before it.
The commission may establish a standard disclosure to be provided to potential subscribers by a project sponsor to disclose this information or such other information as the commission may determine necessary to protect the interests of potential subscribers.
§ 3477. Bill credits
This section applies to any credits assigned to a customer's bill under this chapter.
If the value of the credit to be applied to a customer's bill is less than the amount owed by the customer at the end of the applicable billing period, the customer must be billed for the difference between the amount shown on the bill and the value of the available credits.
If the value of the credits to be applied to a customer's bill is greater than the amount owed by the customer at the end of the billing period, the remaining value of the credit must carry over from month to month until a specified date each year. The commission shall establish a minimum of 2 standard credit expiration dates that provide customers the opportunity to use bill credits to the maximum extent practicable in a given 12-month period. Any remaining credits as of that date must be credited to the standard buyer and may not be applied against any future customer bill.
The commission shall adopt rules to implement this section. Rules adopted under this section are routine technical rules as defined in Title 5, chapter 375, subchapter 2-A.
Sec. 4. Rules. The Public Utilities Commission shall adopt rules to implement the Maine Revised Statutes, Title 35-A, sections 3475 to 3477 by January 1, 2018.
This bill directs the Public Utilities Commission to enter into long-term contracts with a duration of 20 years for the procurement of 120 megawatts of large-scale community solar distributed generation resources by 2022.
The bill designates a standard buyer, which the bill specifies is the investor-owned transmission and distribution utility in its service territory. The bill allows the commission to designate another entity as the standard buyer if the commission determines it is in the best interest of ratepayers to do so. The purpose of the standard buyer is to purchase the output of large-scale community solar distributed generation resources, aggregate the portfolio of distributed generation resources procured and sell or use the output of these resources in a manner that maximizes the value of this portfolio of resources to all ratepayers.
The bill directs the commission to conduct an initial competitive solicitation for 30 megawatts of output of large-scale community solar distributed generation by March 1, 2018. The bill directs the commission and standard buyer to develop a contract prior to a solicitation that will ensure that projects proceed to commercial operation on a reasonable timeline and commits all parties to commercially reasonable behavior.
The bill gives the commission authority to establish requirements for bidder eligibility and standards to ensure competition in the bidding process. The bill also specifies that if the solicitation is determined competitive the commission must select one or more winning bids and direct the standard buyer to negotiate and enter into a contract with the winning bidder or bidders. If the commission concludes the solicitation is not competitive, no bidders may be selected and the capacity available in that solicitation must be deferred to a subsequent solicitation. The bill requires the commission to select bids that maximize the benefits or minimize the costs to all ratepayers.
The bill requires after the first solicitation that the highest bid rate awarded a contract is the standard solar rate. For each subsequent procurement for 30 megawatts of large-scale community solar distributed generation resources, the commission must establish a declining block rate by reducing the rate awarded in the previous procurement by up to 3%. Bidders in subsequent procurement must submit both a standard bid rate and a discounted bid rate. The bill specifies that if the total bids received in the aggregate is for less than 30 megawatts in subsequent solicitations, contracts will be awarded to all bidders at the applicable declining block rate; however, if the total bids received in the aggregate is for more than 30 megawatts, preference will be given to those bidders with the lowest discounted bid rate and contracts must be awarded to all selected bidders at the lowest qualified discounted bid rate. The bill requires that if there are multiple bids at the same discounted bid rate, preference will be given to the project that was submitted first, as determined by the time stamp showing when the bid was received by the commission.
The bill specifies that the bill credit allocated to a subscriber to a particular large-scale community solar distributed generation resource must be based on each subscriber's percentage interest of the total production of the large-scale community solar distributed generation resource for the previous month. The bill requires the project sponsor to provide to the transmission and distribution utility, on a monthly basis, the information required to calculate the bill credit to be provided to each subscriber. The bill includes provisions on how payments to a subscriber must be credited against the subscriber's monthly electricity bill.
The bill requires the Public Utilities Commission to adopt routine technical rules regarding the procurement of large-scale community solar distributed generation resources by January 1, 2018.