Below is the text of Ed Friedman’s bill, to be heard before the Energy, Utilities, and Technology Committee of the Maine State Legislature on Monday, 6 May, at 1:00 p.m. The bill addresses “smart” meters by making electromechanical meters the only ones to be allowed. It addresseswhat may be the most common cause of dirty electricity by addressing systemic neutral/ground issues. It also provides incentives for small solar/wind geothermal producers in the form of required purchase and accelerated payback. Click on this link to look up and read the bill language (plug in “1456” in the upper right of the Maine State Legislature page). To make your voice heard, go to the public hearing on 6 May or e-mail your testimony to the clerk of the committee ([email protected]).—By Ed Friedman
LD 1456, An Act to Promote Local or Community-based Generation Projects
Summary: This bill requires return of the standard electric meter to electromechanical, and provides for accelerated return on investment to small scale producers of solar, wind and geothermal power tied to the grid. It also requires certification to the legislature, PUC and OPA that neutral wires in the grid are maintained in such a way as to maximize efficiency and minimize harm and it encourages development of decentralized non-transmission alternative [NTA] producers of solar, wind and geothermal energy.
Preamble: In an ever-changing and insecure world, nothing enhances independence from volatile foreign or large corporate-based suppliers of food and energy than switching to local sources for these necessities. Producing energy locally can ensure safety, reliability, grid security, and sustainability. This bill addresses three critical components of our energy system: meters, production of clean, green and local energy and often forgotten but vital piece of grid infrastructure, neutral [return] wires.
1. The current mandated deployment of so called smart meters is considered to be the largest uncontrolled toxics biological and cybersecurity experiment of our time. Wireless smart meters mandate exposure to low levels of radiofrequency microwave radiation [RF] shown in thousands of experiments over many years to stimulate biological effects, often adverse and affecting such fundamental things as the blood brain barrier, DNA, cardiovascular and nervous systems. Smart meters also require direct current [DC] to operate and to do this convert alternating current [AC] from the power lines via an internal switching mode power supply or similar conversion device. Any unsuppressed conversion of AC to DC creates electronic distortions [sometimes called transient voltage, harmonics, dirty power or dirty electricity] when superimposed on our 60hertz [Hz] AC current running through home wiring in the form of a smooth sine wave. This is like static on the line and has measurable adverse effects. These distortions have also been shown to create adverse biological reactions and to worsen existing health problems. The proper term for this problem is power quality and there is an entire industry dedicated to remediating its electrical and economic losses. One major cause of power quality issues can be poor grounds or neutrals.
2. Currently, if a home owner in Maine produces clean power via solar or other means and uses a grid-tie system to utilize the grid as a bank of sorts, this producer is only credited by the utility against the power he uses. Anything extra produced, goes free to the utility. There is absolutely no incentive to decentralize and stimulate production of clean power which also has the benefit if done on a large scale, of reducing the need for massive new generating projects involving large capital costs to utility, ratepayer, environment and society as a whole. Germany is the classic example of where this has been done smarter using an accelerated payback schedule for small producers. Maine wants to encourage more manufacturing. Tying this to the production of clean, green energy components used in the state for safe and secure energy production accomplishes multiple goals.
3. The distribution of electricity should essentially be a closed loop with load devices tapping off that loop. Unused electricity must go back to the nearest substation. When there is an inadequate neutral wire in the system, returning current seeks the easiest pathway back which may be through the ground or through other structures or through livestock and people. These failures have manifested themselves into significant and extremely dangerous power quality issues on the utility’s distribution system including non-linear loads, harmonics, transients, voltage sags and swells and large amounts of ground currents. This can result in major power quality issues [i.e. increased harmonics] as well has physiological harm to livestock and people. The net result is major economic loss. Commonly used ground rods are meant to help in extraordinary events such as lightning strikes, they are not meant to substitute for adequate neutrals.
4. With increased levels of hacking and cybersecurity problems, it is obvious that bigger and digitally connected are not necessarily in the best interests of secure power supplies nor economically justified. One needs look no further than the recently approved massive Maine Power Reliability Project to see the cost and vulnerability of a large transmission system. Local or community-based generation or micro-grid/generation projects on the other hand offer independence, ultimate security local control and lower ultimate costs both financial and in disruption to Maine’s environment and people. We should encourage these.
Be it enacted that:
1. Safe Meters: The standard electric meter shall be an electromechanical meter not requiring a switching mode power supply or other conversion of AC to DC power to operate. No digital utility meters [“smart meters” or others], wireless or wired and or requiring DC to operate, shall be permitted.
2. Production and Purchase of Safe, Secure and Clean Power: Utilities are required to purchase power from grid-tied small producers [10MW or less] of solar, wind and geothermal electricity in a manner that accelerates return on investment for producer and encourages the manufacture of component parts in Maine.
2A. Rate Schedule as follows:
2A1. For the initial 10 years following initiation of grid tie operations, utility shall pay producer 0.50 per kilowatt/hour or 4 times current average retail price whichever is higher.
2A2. For the next 5 years, utility shall pay producer 0.30 per kilowatt hour or 2 times average retail price, whichever is higher.
2A3. After 15 years, utility shall pay producer average wholesale price [market price] for electricity generated and sold to utility.
2A4. For projects where 75% or more of component value [solar panels, turbines, pumps, etc.] is manufactured in Maine, initial 10-year purchase price  shall extend for 15 years and secondary 5-year pricing shall extend another 10 years.
3. Beginning in 2015, utilities are required to certify every 5 years to the PUC, Office of Public Advocate and the legislature, their neutral wires have the capacity to return to the grid 150% of excess power and actually return existing power at an efficiency rate of greater than 95%. This shall be done both through ensuring neutral wires are of adequate size to handle today’s uneven loads and by ensuring adequate size and condition of wire, insulation and other system components are maintained.
4. Decentralized “micro-grids” or community/neighborhood-based clean generation facilities using solar, wind and geothermal shall be encouraged as non-transmission alternatives [NTA’s] through tax and regulatory incentives.