A solar farm in Tremont is shown in this March 2019 file photo. Credit: Bill Trotter / BDN

Central Maine Power Co., which came under criticism last February when it told small solar operators that it would cost far more than expected to connect projects to the grid, filed a settlement offer with state regulators Monday proposing a $700,000 investment over two years.

Last February, the utility told the developers of 18 solar projects that it had underestimated the cost of infrastructure upgrades needed to connect to the grid by millions of dollars and they would have to pay more. Many replied that they couldn’t afford the extra amount.

The utility quickly backed down after Democratic Gov. Janet Mills called for an investigation, saying it had found faster and less costly ways for large solar projects to connect to the grid. The Maine Public Utilities Commission nonetheless launched an investigation soon after in February. Commission approval of the agreement would end the investigation.

The money would fund a consultant and an analyst that could help with transmission and distribution planning and interconnection projects, CMP said.

The settlement provides a framework to help CMP work more collaboratively and effectively on clean, reliable and affordable energy, CMP President Joe Purington said. CMP said it has hired more than 100 employees and contractors to focus on solar development projects.

In the settlement, multiple parties agreed to resolve outstanding issues with interconnection practices. The parties include CMP, the Maine Renewable Energy Association, the Coalition for Community Solar Access, the Office of the Public Advocate, Con Edison Clean Energy Businesses and the Natural Resources Council of Maine. The group supports the settlement and wants the commission to approve it.