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Navigating Maine's Renewable Energy Rate Revisions: Key Insights on PUC Docket No. 2024-00137 and 2024-00149

The Maine PUC has recently opened two related dockets that will significantly impact the renewable energy industry. The first, Docket No. 2024-00137, is a follow-on docket to the PUC’s Investigation into the Stranded Cost Rate Design, which increased rates for large generator ratepayers from 700% to 1,700%. The PUC recognized that the rate design was inequitable and ordered the follow-on proceeding to review the rate design and achieve a more equitable outcome. The PUC also ordered that the “follow-on investigation should include consideration of any non-climate-related benefits of NEB, and whether those can and should impact rate design.” Ultimately, “the goal of the follow-on proceeding will be to not only investigate alternate intraclass rate designs, but to the extent necessary, order changes to the rate design to adjust inequities or to effectuate legislative policy directives.”

Despite the promise of having a single docket in which the PUC would establish an equitable rate design that incorporates the benefits of NEB and effectuates legislative policy directives, the PUC opened a separate docket to analyze the costs and benefits of the NEB program. That proceeding, which is Docket No. 2024-00149, will consider the benefits of the NEB program and analyze the PUC-commissioned report entitled Analysis of 2023 Net Benefits of Net Energy Billing Program. Through this docket, the PUC is expected to determine whether the stranded costs calculated by the T&D utilities align with the Legislature’s directive for deducting the monetized benefits of the NEB program from the so-called stranded costs.

These two dockets are essential to the renewable energy industry because they will govern the calculation of stranded costs and their allocation to various classes of ratepayers. Docket No. 2024-00137 could govern the rate design for stranded costs for the next few years. Docket No. 2024-00149 is the industry’s opportunity to push back on the view that renewable energy in general—and the NEB program in particular—is inordinately driving up Maine electricity costs. Through this docket, the industry will have an opportunity to demonstrate that the program has significant benefits. If the PUC finds monetized benefits for the T&D utilities, it could reduce the amount of the stranded costs allocated through the rate design in Docket No. 2024-00137.

Importantly, the deadline for intervening in Docket No. 2024-00137 is July 12, 2024, with written testimony due on July 31, 2024.

The attorneys of Verrill’s utilities group are well-versed in these issues and ready to help you navigate the intervention and proceedings in these important dockets.

Topics: Electricity, Renewable Energy