New law and Gov. Mills’ energy goals set off solar-farm land rush

10/6/19

By Tux TurkelStaff Writer

Now that friendly policies are in place, developers are jockeying for access to Maine's grid to build community solar projects.

Maine this fall is in the midst of a land rush, not for gold but for sunshine.

A recent law encouraging large solar projects, combined with the aggressive clean-energy goals of Gov. Janet Mills, have energy companies and developers from across the country trying to lock down prime sites for dozens of multi-million dollar community solar farms. The most appealing sites are on flat ground, with a southern exposure near high-voltage power lines and substations.

What’s driving the activity now is a major rewrite of community solar rules by the last Legislature, which removed random, restrictive limits that, for instance, limited membership to fewer than 10 customers.

Suddenly, Maine is on the radar of the national solar industry. It’s joining other states like Massachusetts, which has had policies encouraging community solar since 2008.

And like an old-time gold rush, prospectors are staking their claims, studying circuit maps and property tax records to zero in on the most promising sites. The projects that actually get built will have to overcome many obstacles, including potential resistance from neighbors and pending guidelines aimed at protecting Maine’s valuable crop and pasture land.

“The leadership shown by Gov. Mills and the passage of (new solar rules) was ultimately the straw that broke the camel’s back,” said Salar Naini, vice president of business development at TurningPoint Energy, a Denver-based clean-energy development and investment firm. “With market access and an attractive value proposition now possible for future customers, Maine now ranks at the top of markets we are pursuing in the U.S.”

All summer, developers such as TurningPoint have been cold-calling landowners, sending emails and letters, and working with local partners to gain a foothold. TurningPoint and most others won’t talk about where in Maine they are pursuing sites. They don’t want to tip their hand to competitors or get the locals worked up about something big in their backyards.

But there are clues. Solar farms need to be within a mile or so of major power lines or substations, so the power can be loaded onto the grid without building more transmission lines. The latest list of projects vying for connections to Central Maine Power’s distribution system shows 85 proposed solar farms.

Developer names aren’t included on the list, but communities and substations are. They span the service area, but tend to be concentrated in central and western Maine.

Many of these projects will fail to launch, however, for reasons that include limited capacity on existing connections to the grid. That’s why developers are trying to claim an early spot in line.

State regulators are still drafting rules for community solar. Because permitting and construction take time, most new farms won’t be built until 2021 or beyond. But the rush is on now, with the aim of signing 20-25 year leases with landowners.

Read the full article here:

https://www.pressherald.com/2019/10/06/new-law-mills-energy-goals-s...

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Comment by Penny Gray on October 6, 2019 at 1:01pm

What keeps these big solar installations from hooking into those miles and miles of wind factory transmission lines?  Might clear cutting laws might be rewritten to accomodate the leveling of Maine's forestlands?  Personally I think solar panels belong on roofs.  We've destroyed enough of our environment.

Comment by Willem Post on October 6, 2019 at 12:28pm

COST SHIFTING IS THE NAME OF THE GAME REGARDING WIND AND SOLAR

 

Regarding wind and solar, cost shifting is rarely mentioned, identified or quantified. Those costs, as c/kWh, could be quantified, but it is politically expedient, using various, often far-fetched reasons, to charge them to:

 

- Directly to ratepayers, via electric rate schedules, and/or added taxes, fees and surcharges on electric bills

- Directly to taxpayers, such as carbon taxes, user fees and surcharges.

- Directly to federal and state budgets and debts

 

Per Economics 101, no cost ever disappears.

Eventually, the various shifted wind and solar costs, plus direct and indirect wind and solar subsidies, would increase the prices of energy and of other goods and services.

Efficiency and productivity improvements elsewhere in the energy sector, and other sectors of the economy, may partially, or completely, offset such increases.

However, wind and solar subsidies would divert capital from other sectors of the economy, which likely would result in fewer improvements in efficiency and productivity in these sectors.

http://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/high-demand-and-low-win...

Comments on Below Table

 

Indirect subsidies are due to loan interest deduction and depreciation deductions from taxable incomes.

Direct subsidies are due to up front grants, waiving of state sales taxes, and/or local property (municipal and school) taxes. See URL.

 

An owner of ridgeline wind would have to sell his output at 18.8 c/kWh, if the owner were not getting the benefits of cost shifting and upfront cash grants and subsidies.

That owner could sell his output at 16.4 c/kWh, if his costs were reduced due to cost shifting.

He could sell his output at 9 c/kWh, if on top of the cost shifting he also received various subsidies. The same rationale holds for solar. See table.

 

In NE construction costs of ridgeline wind and offshore wind are high/MW, and the capacity factor of wind is about 0.285 and of solar about 0.14. Thus, NE wind and solar have high prices/MWh. See table.

 

In US areas, such as the Great Plains, Texas Panhandle and Southwest, with much lower construction costs/MW and much better sun and wind conditions than New England, wind and solar electricity prices/MWh are less.

 

Those lower prices often are mentioned, without mentioning other factors, by the pro-RE media and financial consultants, such as Bloomberg, etc., which surely deceives the lay public

 

Future electricity cost/MWh, due to the planned build-out of NE offshore wind added to the planned build-out of NE onshore wind, likely would not significantly change, because of the high costs of grid extensions and upgrades to connect the wind plants and to provide significantly increased connections to the New York and Canadian grids.

 

NOTE: For the past 20 years, Germany and Denmark have been increasing their connections to nearby grids, because of their increased wind and solar.

 

The subsidy percentages in below table are from a cost analysis of NE wind and solar in this article. See URL.

http://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/excessive-subsidies-for...

 

Values for 2018 are represented in below table.

 

NE Wind/Solar

NE Wind

%

NE Solar

%

Ridgeline

Large-scale

c/kWh

c/kWh

Price to utility

No direct/indirect subsidies

No cost shifting

18.8

100

23.5

100

Less cost shifting

2.4

13

2.1

9

Price to utility

No direct/indirect subsidies

With cost shifting

16.4

87

21.4

91

Less subsidy, wind

45% of 16.4

7.4

39

Less subsidy, solar

45% of 21.4

9.6

41

Price to utility*

With direct/indirect subsidies

With cost shifting

9.0

48

11.8

50

Comment by Mountain View on October 6, 2019 at 11:37am

The solar peddlers are tying up land in central Maine with 20 year leases, but that won't be the case when landowners see the potential of growing hemp.  

Hannah Pingree on the Maine expedited wind law

Hannah Pingree - Director of Maine's Office of Innovation and the Future

"Once the committee passed the wind energy bill on to the full House and Senate, lawmakers there didn’t even debate it. They passed it unanimously and with no discussion. House Majority Leader Hannah Pingree, a Democrat from North Haven, says legislators probably didn’t know how many turbines would be constructed in Maine."

https://pinetreewatch.org/wind-power-bandwagon-hits-bumps-in-the-road-3/

 

Maine as Third World Country:

CMP Transmission Rate Skyrockets 19.6% Due to Wind Power

 

Click here to read how the Maine ratepayer has been sold down the river by the Angus King cabal.

Maine Center For Public Interest Reporting – Three Part Series: A CRITICAL LOOK AT MAINE’S WIND ACT

******** IF LINKS BELOW DON'T WORK, GOOGLE THEM*********

(excerpts) From Part 1 – On Maine’s Wind Law “Once the committee passed the wind energy bill on to the full House and Senate, lawmakers there didn’t even debate it. They passed it unanimously and with no discussion. House Majority Leader Hannah Pingree, a Democrat from North Haven, says legislators probably didn’t know how many turbines would be constructed in Maine if the law’s goals were met." . – Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting, August 2010 https://www.pinetreewatchdog.org/wind-power-bandwagon-hits-bumps-in-the-road-3/From Part 2 – On Wind and Oil Yet using wind energy doesn’t lower dependence on imported foreign oil. That’s because the majority of imported oil in Maine is used for heating and transportation. And switching our dependence from foreign oil to Maine-produced electricity isn’t likely to happen very soon, says Bartlett. “Right now, people can’t switch to electric cars and heating – if they did, we’d be in trouble.” So was one of the fundamental premises of the task force false, or at least misleading?" https://www.pinetreewatchdog.org/wind-swept-task-force-set-the-rules/From Part 3 – On Wind-Required New Transmission Lines Finally, the building of enormous, high-voltage transmission lines that the regional electricity system operator says are required to move substantial amounts of wind power to markets south of Maine was never even discussed by the task force – an omission that Mills said will come to haunt the state.“If you try to put 2,500 or 3,000 megawatts in northern or eastern Maine – oh, my god, try to build the transmission!” said Mills. “It’s not just the towers, it’s the lines – that’s when I begin to think that the goal is a little farfetched.” https://www.pinetreewatchdog.org/flaws-in-bill-like-skating-with-dull-skates/

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