In 2013, the state of Maine is considering making its Community-Based Renewable Energy Pilot Program permanent. Started in 2009, the program supports small-scale (under 10 MW) projects with at least 51% local ownership. Qualified projects are eligible for long-term contracts with utilities that buy the power they produce at a guaranteed rate of return, commonly known as Feed-in-Tariffs (FiTs). These contracts are recognized as a critical way to finance community-scale renewables because the dedicated payment stream can help residents secure financing. The pilot program was capped at 50 MW with 10MW reserved for projects with capacity less than 10kW. Maine’s expanded program would provide financing for a range of projects guaranteeing a rate of return of 8% to 10% for solar PV and 3% to 7% for all other renewables. The contracts would last for 20 years and participants would be rewarded with extra financial incentives for using local content (such as solar panels produced in the state).
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