Maine PUC to Kick Off Review of Grid Plan to Assist Clean Energy Transition
Last month, the Maine Public Utilities Commission initiated a proceeding to identify the priorities to be addressed in an electric grid plan that will assist Maine in the “cost-effective transition to a clean, affordable, and reliable electric grid.” A link to the order can be found here.
This proceeding was directed by legislation passed earlier this year entitled “An Act Regarding Utility Accountability and Grid Planning for Maine’s Clean Energy Future.” P.L. 2021, ch. 702. Under the Act, the Maine Public Utilities Commission is required to initiate a proceeding of this nature once every five years.
Prior to initiating this proceeding, the Commission solicited comments from a range of stakeholders and received comments from the Office of the Public Advocate, Central Maine Power, Versant Power, the Governor’s Energy Office, environmental organizations, and various other parties. As noted in the Order commencing this docket, the stakeholders provided a range of suggestions for how this proceeding should move ahead, including:
- That the process to identify priorities should be transparent, robust, accessible, open, respectful, collaborative, and include diverse perspectives;
- That there be stakeholder feedback at multiple points throughout the process;
- That there should be a recommended decision issued by Commission Staff, with an opportunity for parties to file comments before the issuance of a Commission order that identifies the priorities that utilities are required to address in their filings; and
- That the stakeholder process should consist of a series of half-day public workshops oriented around Commission-identified topics to ensure a baseline understanding of the Non-Wires Alternative process.
Additional suggestions received include that the Commission do targeted outreach to impacted, underserved, or historically disadvantaged communities by developing communication materials in plain language to help the public understand the Commission’s processes and how to participate and provide useful comments, as well as coordinating with community groups and offering remote and virtual participation to include larger portions of the public. Further, there were suggestions to widely promote and offer potential stakeholder intervenor funding, including funding of expert witnesses, to encourage participation, and to hold meetings around the State in addition to any meetings held at the Commission.
Commission Staff will take the submitted comments into consideration as it prepares its plan, which will be published in Docket 2022-00322. Per the new Act, once the Commission releases its plan at the conclusion of the stakeholder workshops, the Commission will issue an order that directs the utility to submit a filing to the Commission that addresses the priorities identified through the stakeholder workshop process. The utility has 18 months from the date the order is issued to submit a filing that addresses the identified priorities.
Any interested party may participate in this process by contacting Claire Swingle at the Governor’s Energy Office via email at [email protected].