Mills wants probe of extra costs charged for solar projects

Source: By Associated Press • Posted: Wednesday, February 10, 2021

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — Democratic Gov. Janet Mills on Monday asked state utility regulators to investigate why Central Maine Power has alerted solar operators that they’re going to have to pay extra to connect to the grid.

CMP sent emails to the developers of solar power projects warning of additional costs because of unanticipated problems in connecting to the grid.

“It is especially concerning that some of these problems relate to facilities that are already built and ready to operate,” Mills wrote Monday in a letter to Public Utilities Commission Chairman Philip Bartlett. It’s “deeply regrettable” that CMP did not anticipate the problems, she wrote.

Maine has seen a rush of solar energy development following legislation designed to spur renewable energy in the state.

But the transition depends on the ability of utilities like CMP to integrate the projects into the existing electric grid. Any additional costs of connecting to the grid is borne by the solar project developers.

In the email to solar developers, first reported by the Portland Press Herald, CMP said the solar projects were causing voltage problems at substations where the projects connect, even after agreements were reached in which the developers agreed to pay for upgrades.

A survey sent to members of the Maine Renewable Energy Association found that more than 100 solar projects in 74 communities have received revised cost estimates totaling tens of millions of dollars, the newspaper reported.