Timid Maine Community-Based Renewable Energy FIT Becomes Law

By Paul Gipe


Maine Governor John Baldacci signed LD 1075 on June 24, 2009, creating a Community-Based Renewable Energy pilot program. The six-year program implements a simple feed-in tariff for qualifying projects.

The timid program limits total capacity to 50 MW and with further restrictions may only allow 25 MW in total. As a result, Maine’s pilot program is even smaller than Vermont’s 50 MW program.

To qualify for the pilot feed-in tariff, 51 percent of the project must be owned locally. Local ownership is defined as residents of the state, schools, public institutions, tribes, non-governmental organizations, or corporations that are 51 percent owned by state residents.

Below are some details on the program.


  • Project size cap: 10 MW
  • Program size cap: 50 MW
  • Program Cap for any one utility: 25 MW
  • Microgenerator set aside: 10 MW
  • Contract Term: up to 20 years
  • Tariff: no more than $0.10/kWh averaged over the life of the contract

The limit on capacity of any one utility effectively limits the program to probably no more than 25 MW as much of Maine is served by only one utility company, Central Maine Power.

Ten megawatts of the pilot is set aside for microgenerators, projects less than 100 kW, and for those served by consumer-owned utilities.

Tariffs under the program will be determined by Maine’s Public Utilities Commission for wind, solar, and any other renewable resource upon request.

Tariffs for each technology will be determined by the PUC based on the cost of the project and “a reasonable rate of return” but cannot exceed $0.10/kWh over the life of the contract. For comparison, Vermont’s recently enacted feed-in tariff policy pays between $0.14 and $0.20/kWh for wind energy and $0.30/kWh for solar PV, and Gainesville Regional Utilities feed-in tariff program pays $0.32/kWh for solar PV. As such, Maine’s limit on the feed-in tariff is among the lowest in North America, even lower than the ineffective tariff in California.

All costs will be recovered from ratepayers.

Maine’s PUC is to issue an interim report on the progress of the program by February 15, 2010 and issue a full report by January 15, 2011.

Renewable energy advocates note privately that their original proposal was so watered down that they expect the program will be largely ineffective.

A small step for Maine Feed-In-Tariff!