Maine PUC publishes renewable energy report

By Erin Voegele | April 07, 2016

On March 31, the Maine Public Utilities Commission issued its annual report on the state’s renewable resource portfolio standard, reporting biomass was used to satisfy 92.22 percent of Class I requirements in 2014. Hydro met 0.68 percent, while wind met 7.1 percent.

The report explains that most of the compliance with Maine’s PRS occurs through the purchase of renewable energy credits (RECs). In addition, the New England Power Poll has established a REC trading and tracking mechanism known as the generation information system (GIS).

According to the report, RECs from 22 facilities were used by suppliers to comply with the 2014 requirements, including one hydro plant in Maine, one hydro plant in Connecticut, one hydro plant in Massachusetts, 18 biomass plants located in Maine, and one wind facility in Maine. On a combined basis, 748,266 GIS certificates from the biomass plants were used to meet the 2014 requirements. Overall, a total of 811,476 GIS certificates were needed to comply with the standard.

The PUC reported that 78.05 percent of the Class I requirement was satisfied through the purchase of RECs in 2014, with 0.0004 percent satisfied through the alternative compliance mechanism (ACM), 21.88 percent satisfied using RECs banked from 2013 and 0.113 percent that will be satisfied during the 2015 cure period allowed by the program. The PUC also indicated 181,595 RECs were purchased in 2014 and banked for future use. An additional 8 RECs were purchased where the competitive electricity provider (CEP) did not indicate whether the certificates were to be banked or would not be used. 

According to the report, the cost of RECs used for compliance in 2014 ranged from approximately $1.72 per MWh to $22.33 per MWh with an average cost of $8.56 per MWh. The total cost was $6.48 million. One supplier chose to satisfy a portion of the requirement through the ACM at the rate of $66.16 per MWh, for a total cost of $198. The total cost to ratepayers in 2014 was $6.95 million, which translates to approximately 0.06 cents per kWh, or about 30-35 cents per month for a typical residential bill.

Biomass met only 3.32 percent of Maine’s Class II requirements in 2014. The majority of the requirement was met with hydro at 78.05 percent. Municipal solid waste (MSW) met 7.39 percent of the requirement, with other sources meeting the remaining 11.24 percent. The PUC said the 2014 costs of RECs used to satisfy the eligible resource portfolio requirement ranged from $0 per MWh to $1.80 per MWh, with an average cost of 52 cents per MWh and a total cost of $1.83 million. This translates into less than 10 cents per month on a typical residential bill.

As of March, the PUC reports that the New England Independent System Operator queue lists 4,885 MW of proposed renewable energy projects in New England, including 37 MW of biomass capacity and 2 MW of landfill gas capacity.

Maine’s Class I requirements mandate that certain percentages of electricity supplied to state consumers come from new renewable resources. The percentage requirement began at 1 percent in 2008 and increases by 1 percent year through 2017 when it reaches 10 percent.  The 2014 requirement was 7 percent. Qualifying renewable resources used to satisfy the Class I requirements must be placed in service after Sept. 1, 2005 and, except for wind, must not have a nameplate capacity that exceeds 100 MW. Class II requirements mandate that each retail competitive electricity supplier meet at least 30 percent of its retail load in Maine from eligible sources, which are defined as either renewable sources or efficient sources. Renewable sources may not exceed a capacity of 100 MW and efficient resources are cogeneration facilities that were constructed prior to 1997, meet a statutory efficient standard and may be fueled by fossil fuels.    

A full copy of the report can be downloaded from the Maine website.