Last DSIRE Review: 05/10/2012
||Public Benefits Fund
|Eligible Renewable/Other Technologies:
||Solar Thermal Electric, Photovoltaics, Wind, Biomass, Hydroelectric, Geothermal Electric, Fuel Cells, Municipal Solid Waste, Tidal Energy, Fuel Cells using Renewable Fuels
||Residential, Nonprofit, Schools, Rural Electric Cooperative, Institutional
|Total Fund:||Varies because dependent on voluntary contributions by electric customers and revenues from the RPS alternative compliance payment (approximately $800,000 for 2009 and $1.325 million (est.) for 2010 and $840,000 for FY2011)|
|Charge:||None (contributions are voluntary)|
35-A M.R.S. § 3210|
1997 (subsequently amended)
35-A M.R.S. §10101 et seq.|
Efficiency Maine 65-407 Chapter 312|
S.B. 649 (Public Law 637)|
In April 2012, legislation was enacted to expand the Renewable Resource Fund to include energy efficiency as well (Public Law 637). That legislation becomes effective in July, when this entry will be updated accordingly.
Maine's public benefits fund for renewable energy was established as part of the state's electric-industry restructuring legislation, enacted in May 1997. The law directed the Maine Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to develop a voluntary program allowing customers to contribute to a fund that supports renewable-energy projects. This fund was originally known as the Renewable Resource Fund (now it is part of Efficiency Maine Trust).
The PUC adopted rules requiring the state's utilities to offer customers the option of supporting the fund by checking off a contribution of $1, $5, $10 or other amount each month on their electric bill. Every six months, each utility must notify its customers of the existence and purpose of the fund, the means to contribute to the fund, and summaries of projects that have been supported by the fund.
In addition, revenue for the fund comes from the state's renewables portfolio requirement. Utilities may pay an alternative compliance payment (ACP) in lieu of procuring renewable resources to meet portfolio requirements; ACP income supports the Renewable Resource Fund (now part of Efficiency Maine Trust). Approximately $800,000 was collected from the two sources for the fund during 2009 and an estimated $1.325 million during 2010 and approximately $800,000 in FY2011 (see Efficiency Maine Trust FY2011 Annual report for details).
The fund supports grants for renewable-energy demonstration projects to Maine-based nonprofits, consumer-owned electric transmission and distribution utilities, community-based nonprofit organizations, community action programs, municipalities, quasi-municipal corporations or districts, and school administrative units. The first funding solicitation was issued in 2003.* As of June 2011 (HB 568), the fund is also authorized to support the solar and wind rebate program.
Efficiency Maine Trust administers the fund and must report to the Joint Standing Committee of the Legislature every year by December 1. The annual report includes a description of commission actions, accounting of total deposits and expenditures from the fund, and a description of any research and development or community demonstration projects that received funding. See the Efficiency Maine Reports for additional information on the Renewable Resource Fund.
In 2007, Public Law 403 established the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) alternative compliance payment, the revenues of which are added to the Renewable Resource Fund. LD 36 expanded funding eligibility to additional types of organizations and transferred management of the fund from the State Planning Office to the PUC. Most recently, the Act Regarding Maine's Energy Future (Public Law 372, June 2009) established a new entity, the Efficiency Maine Trust, which became responsible for Maine's energy efficiency and renewable energy programs. All of the funds in Renewable Energy Fund were transferred to Efficiency Maine Trust July 1, 2010.
*The fund has support research and development via grants provided by the Maine Technology Institute. As of May 2010, funding has been fully allocated.