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VERIFY: Yes, you can get a discount on your Central Maine Power or Versant Power electricity bills by signing up for community solar projects

Signing up for community solar does not mean installing any panels on your home. Instead, you pay for the portion of electricity from a solar farm that you use.

PORTLAND, Maine — People in Maine are getting fliers in the mail encouraging them to sign up for community solar projects in order to get discounts on their electricity bills.

The offer sounds enticing: so enticing that some people think it may be too good to be true, and that it may be a scam in disguise.

One of the most common mailers is from a company called Nexamp.

THE QUESTION:

Is Nexamp a legitimate company?

Does signing on with a community solar project save me money on my electricity bill?

OUR SOURCES:

THE ANSWER

   

This is true.

Yes, Nexamp is a legitimate company.

Yes, you can save money on your electric bill by signing on with a community solar company.

WHAT WE LEARNED:

Community solar companies must register with the Maine Public Utilities Commission, and consumers can verify on their own on the PUC website.

In 2019, the Maine Legislature passed legislation to encourage the development of solar and other small renewable energy projects in the state. As a result, Maine has programs available that provide opportunities for both residential and non-residential customers to participate in these projects, including one that allows customers to share the costs and benefits of small solar or other types of renewable energy, sometimes referred to as “community” projects. Under this program, participating customers receive kilowatt-hour (kWh) credits on their electric utility bill that reduce the amount of the payment owed to the utility, to the standard offer service provider, or, if applicable, to the customer’s competitive electricity provider.

"I would say one of the most common questions that we get when we start talking to customers is, 'What's the catch?'" Keith Hevenor, Communications Director for Nexamp, said. "The clean energy opportunities have left some people behind. We're really focused on that equity and equitable access to this newer generation of electricity we all want. You don't want solar to be for the privileged."

Consumers can pick their supplier, but Central Maine Power and Versant Power deliver the power.

Central Maine Power confirmed that Nexamp is a legitimate company, but said CMP is not responsible for the pricing.

A spokesperson wrote:

"While the costs of the solar power purchase appear on the CMP bill, it is not a CMP charge and we are not responsible for the pricing or the relationship between the customer and the solar developer. So yes, they are legit, but no, CMP is not involved other than to collect and remit the costs as we do now."

"It is a savings that does add up over the course of the year, and I think, more importantly, it's really enabling people who want to be involved with the green energy movement. To do so without making an upfront investment," Hevenor said.

Signing up for community solar does not mean installing any panels on your home. Instead, you pay for the portion of electricity from a solar farm that you use.

The Town of Wells and the Wells-Ogunquit Community School District signed a Net Energy Billing Agreement with Nexamp on Wednesday.

Under the agreement, the town and school district will receive energy credits that directly offset their bill from Central Maine Power, and because every credit is provided at a fixed discount, the town and school are guaranteed to save money every year.

Energy credits will come from the Nexamp solar farm located in Rumford, which generates clean electricity that is fed onto the CMP electric grid. This contract is estimated to provide the town and school district with approximately $2.5 million in reduced electricity costs over the course of the agreement. Additionally, the clean energy generated by the town and school district’s portion of the project will produce enough electricity equivalent to offset 43,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide or 100,000,000 miles driven by cars.

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