The Maine Public Utilities Commission (Commission) opened a case Feb. 18 to investigate the future design and operation of the electric distribution system in Maine.
The Commission will conduct an in-depth, structured, and comprehensive examination to determine how best to accommodate increasing amounts of renewable energy, including solar installations and energy storage, and substantial load growth with increasing electrification of our heating and transportation sectors, according to a PUC news release.
“To address climate change in the years ahead, we will be placing new demands on our electric distribution system, and we must assess how to modernize the grid at the lowest cost for Maine people,” said Commission Chairman Philip L. Bartlett II, in the release. “Recent issues related to interconnection of distributed resources highlight both the challenges we face and the urgency of the need for effective planning. We are at the beginning of a period of significant transition, and we must seize the opportunity to modernize our grid to support beneficial electrification, integrate more renewable resources, and improve reliability.”
The investigation (Case #2021-00039) will focus on the distribution systems of Maine’s investor-owned transmission and distribution utilities-Central Maine Power Company and Versant Power. The investigation will also address information transparency issues such that developers and other entities, including the Efficiency Maine Trust, can assess system needs and opportunities at a granular level. In addition, the investigation will consider opportunities to create a more robust, flexible system to adapt to changing uses and needs.
The first step in the process will be for the Commission to retain expert electrical engineering and consulting services to conduct the comprehensive examination. Upon the completion of the examination, the consultants will submit to the Commission a detailed report containing their findings and recommendations. The Commission will then thoroughly explore the issues and allow interested persons to examine the consultant’s report and provide input and recommendations regarding the issues presented.
Last week, the Commission opened an investigation (Case #2021-00035) into interconnection practices by CMP at the request of Governor Janet Mills, the Maine Renewable Energy Association and the Coalition for Community Solar Access.
About the Commission
The Maine Public Utilities Commission regulates electric, telephone, water and gas utilities to ensure that Maine citizens have access to safe and reliable utility service at rates that are just and reasonable for all ratepayers. Commission programs include Maine Enhanced 911 Service and Dig Safe. Philip L. Bartlett, II serves as Chairman, Bruce Williamson and Randall Davis serve as Commissioners.
Learn more about the Commission at www.maine.gov/mpuc