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Maine Sets Aggressive New RPS; Will Award Long-Term Contracts for Eligible Resources by Competitive Solicitation

This week, Maine Governor Janet Mills signed new legislation to reform and update Maine’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS). The new law, titled “An Act To Reform Maine's Renewable Portfolio Standard” (the Act), substantially updates Maine’s RPS requirements by making the following important changes:

  • New goals for the consumption of renewable energy.Under the Act, renewable resources must account for 80% of electric sales by 2030, and 100% by 2050.

  • Changes to Maine’s portfolio requirements for renewable capacity resources. The Act creates a new class of resources termed Class IA resources, which are the same as Class I resources, except that they do not include resources that did not operate or were not recognized by ISO-NE as capacity resources for two years or more, and either resumed operation or became recognized as a capacity resource after September 1, 2005. The Act implements a Class IA portfolio standard that requires retail suppliers to obtain increasing percentages of supply for retail sales within the state from Class IA resources, beginning at 2.5% for 2020 and increasing gradually to 40% by 2040. The Act also allows portions of generation output from qualified hydroelectric facilities to be eligible as an RPS resource, provided that the hydroelectric facility has a nameplate capacity of 25 MW to 100 MW, is located outside of the freshwater range of the Gulf of Maine Atlantic Salmon as federally defined, and is interconnected to an electric distribution system in Maine.

  • New thermal renewable energy credits. The Act requires competitive electricity suppliers in Maine to obtain thermal RECs reflecting an increasing amount of output from thermal energy resources. The new provision is intended to incentivize installation of efficient heating and cooling systems throughout Maine. Under the Act, competitive electricity suppliers in Maine must purchase thermal RECs in an amount equivalent to 0.4% of the supplier’s retail electricity sales in 2021, to 3.6% of its retail electricity sales in 2030. Eligible thermal resources include heat, steam, hot water, or other form of thermal energy beginning operation after June 30, 2019 and generated in accordance with applicable energy performance standards established by the Maine Public Utilities Commission (the Commission).

  • Competitive procurements for Class IA resources. The Act also requires that the Commission issue two competitive solicitations for long-term contracts for energy or RECs from Class IA resources and direct investor-owned transmission and distribution (T&D) utilities to enter into one or more long-term, 20-year contracts for energy or RECs with Class IA resources, in an amount equal to 14% of Maine’s 2018 retail electric sales. Such resources may also, but are not required to, contract with the T&D utility to sell capacity. The Act requires the Commission to conduct the first solicitation and approve contracts for energy or RECs equal to at least 7% of 2018 electricity sales by December 31, 2020. The Act also requires the Commission to initiate the second solicitation by January 15, 2021. Notably, the Act also allows for bids from Class IA resources co-located or paired with grid-connected energy storage facilities.

  • New incentives for municipal solid waste facilities. Under existing Maine law, each retail electricity supplier must obtain at least 30% of its portfolio of supply sources for retail electricity sales from Class II resources (renewable or efficient resources formerly known as “eligible resources”). To incentivize suppliers to meet this requirement with generation output of solid waste facilities, the Act establishes a 300% multiplier for a generator fueled by municipal solid waste in conjunction with recycling that has obtained a solid waste facility license from the DEP. This incentive will remain effective until 2025.

  • Required market study. By January 31, 2021, the Governor’s Office of Policy and Management and the Governor’s Energy Office must complete and submit to the Legislature a joint market assessment study on the 2030 goal of obtaining 80% of retail electricity sales from renewable energy resources. The joint report will also provide any recommendations on potential changes to the RPS regime.

©2020 Pierce Atwood LLP. All rights reserved.National Law Review, Volume IX, Number 179


About this Author

Jared S. des Rosiers energy attorney Pierce Atwood

Jared des Rosiers' practice focuses on complex energy regulatory, infrastructure development and siting, and litigation matters before the Maine Public Utilities Commission (MPUC), the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), and state and federal courts around the country.

In each case, Jared strives to develop a comprehensive strategic plan for success in collaboration with his clients and then to efficiently implement that plan through advocacy, negotiation and creativity.  When litigation is necessary, Jared uses discovery, witness preparation, motion practice, and trial, as...

(207) 791-1390
Sarah H. Beard, Pierce Atwood, Litigation attorney

Sarah Beard litigates cases involving state and local tax issues at all levels, and offers transaction planning, regulatory and legislative experience to assist clients in reaching their financial goals.

Sarah has more than 25 years of experience advising businesses on state and local tax issues.  Her practice covers all state and local taxes but concentrates on assisting businesses with Maine income tax and sales and use tax issues.  Her practice includes state and local tax controversy work at administrative levels and in court, as well as counseling and transactional planning. Sarah has significant experience assisting clients with multistate nexus issues and voluntary disclosure agreements.

Sarah clerked for Chief Justice Vincent McKusick of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court immediately after law school. Following her clerkship she joined Pierce Atwood where she has practiced ever since, in the state and local tax area.

(207) 791-1378
Andrew Kaplan Energy Attorney

Andrew Kaplan focuses his practice on providers of energy storage, demand response, ancillary services, and electricity and gas transmission and supply, both in the wholesale and retail markets. He regularly represents clients before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and Independent System Operators/Regional Transmission Operators (NYISO, ISO-NE, PJM, Midcontinent ISO, California ISO, SPP and ERCOT), and many state public utility commissions. Andrew has won significant rulings before FERC that helped to pave the way for growth among leaders in the energy storage industry....

Liam J. Paskvan, litigation lawyer, Pierce Atwood

Liam is an energy and energy infrastructure attorney focusing on both litigation and transactional matters. He represents solar farm developers and on- and offshore wind developers, electric and natural gas local distribution companies (LDCs), crude oil shippers, energy market financial traders, telecommunications providers, and others before state public utilities commissions throughout New England and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). He also represents clients in a variety of other settings, including in regional and state-sponsored requests for proposals (RFPs) for...

(207) 791-1306