Utility Has Already Signed Contracts, Latest Attempt Would Jeopardize Tens of Millions of Dollars Slated for Investment in Maine
AUGUSTA – Community solar projects that would bring tens of millions of dollars in clean energy investment may be thwarted and some will likely be put on hold after Central Maine Power (CMP) issued unprecedented after-the-fact notices delaying construction and demanding increases in cost ranging from $1 million to $12 million per project.
As reported in the Portland Press Herald, CMP signed interconnection agreements with developers to bring more than 2,000 MW of clean renewable power onto the New England electrical grid. CMP assessed developers millions in upgrade fees prior to signing these agreements.
Now, in a series of opaque communications from CMP to solar developers, the utility is claiming additional infrastructure upgrades are necessary to connect the projects to the grid. CMP informed developers that their projects would be delayed for months while they conduct studies to determine the specific infrastructure requirements.
“Let’s be clear: CMP has already signed contracts with these developers,” said Kaitlin Kelly O’Neill, Northeast Regional Director for the Coalition for Community Solar Access. “If CMP cannot connect them to the grid based on their existing infrastructure, as the contracts stipulated, the cost of upgrades should be borne by CMP’s shareholders, not by solar developers or consumers.
“CMP cannot be allowed to retroactively assess millions on projects that have already started to move forward,” continued O’Neill. “Not only will this threaten a massive amount of clean energy development already in the works, but it will send a signal to investors that Maine is too risky a bet for future projects.”
The CCSA supports the Maine Renewable Energy Association (MREA) in demanding an investigation of CMP’s retroactive upgrade fees by the Maine Public Utilities Commission.