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This week’s edition!

Energy Policies Must Drive Down Costs for Mainers

Environmental groups downplay our energy challenges because we did not see the catastrophic price increases we saw last winter. They couldn’t be more wrong.

Dear Maine Taxpayer,

We are not just trying to avoid price increases. We must lower energy costs to make our state competitive. High energy costs make it difficult for our businesses to compete or expand. When prices spike in the winter, some mills shut down to save on energy costs. We need to create jobs, not lose them because of high energy prices.

We are making progress to get more natural gas to our region. But we need to move faster.

New England Governors are meeting this month to talk about natural gas – I will push for action there. Fortunately, we now have more partners to make our region competitive. Governor Baker in Massachusetts wants to get more natural gas capacity. Governor Malloy in Connecticut supports infrastructure for natural gas. Rhode Island is also moving forward with natural gas.

We need projects that deliver the quickest results for Mainers. We are proposing legislation to help employers purchase their own natural gas capacity with a letter of credit.

Once again, we are proposing common-sense policies that the Democrats have rejected in the past. We want to use revenue from increased timber harvesting to lower costs for Mainers to heat their homes.

We are also proposing to remove the 100-megawatt limit on all forms of renewable energy. I have said it again and again. I favor any form energy, as long as it does two things: lower costs for Mainers and reduces pollution.

The PUC should
be allowed to consider long-term contracts for
energy only if it significantly reduces costs for ratepayers.

The Legislature is scrambling because they missed a small, three-letter word in their energy bill, which could lead to an increase of $38 million on Maine ratepayers every year.

But we have greater problems than that. If we are serious about addressing the costs of energy, we should have a Commissioner of Energy.  Maine spends over a billion dollars in electricity and a roughly $500 million on heat every year.

Energy is important to our state’s economic future.  While the Legislature wants to spend more of your money there should also be oversight.  The commissioner should supervise the funds at the Efficiency Maine Trust to make sure this funding is used effectively. This organization gets millions of dollars in ratepayer funds. It needs to be accountable and ultimately answerable to the Maine people through elected officials.

Once we have oversight and transparency at Efficiency Maine, then we can take about adding a small word to a big spending bill.

Thank You

Paul R. LePage

Governor

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