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Governor’s Address: High Electricity Prices Cost Mainers Good Jobs

With 90-degree heat this week, air conditioners are cranking and electricity meters are spinning. Household bills may go up, but it’s Mainers seeking good jobs who really pay the price for high electricity costs.

Dear Maine Taxpayer,

Homeowners see higher electricity bills during summer months or when prices spike in the winter. But large manufacturing companies using tremendous amounts of electricity pay high prices all year round.

When companies are forced to pay higher costs for electricity, they have to cut costs elsewhere. Too often, this results in layoffs or furloughs for workers. Some companies even move out of state, taking good-paying jobs with them.

Maine just lost another company, Franklin Fueling Systems of Saco, which is moving to Madison, Wisconsin. Their cost of electricity doubled between 2012 and 2014. Thirty-five manufacturing jobs are now going to the Midwest, where energy costs are much lower.

Well-respected Maine companies have told us that high energy costs make it difficult to invest in jobs and harder to compete in the marketplace.

Companies struggling with high electricity costs around the state include Pine Tree Orthopedic Lab in Livermore Falls; an Irving sawmill in Dixfield; Elmet Technologies in Lewiston; Auburn Manufacturing; Jarden Plastic Solutions in East Wilton; and Black Dinah Chocolates in Isle au Haut.

I’ve been saying it for five years: high electricity costs are a major barrier to attracting business investment and good-paying career jobs, especially in energy-intensive industries such as manufacturing. My Administration is making progress with other states to expand hydropower and natural gas into our region. But 40 year liberal policies in Maine are preventing us from taking advantage of low-cost energy, such as clean and affordable hydropower in Quebec and natural gas in Pennsylvania.

The Legislature also has a responsibility to address this burden on Maine businesses. Instead of looking exclusively at wind and solar power, elected officials must look at the bottom line. That’s where the jobs are. The Legislature neglected to address real energy reforms, choosing to continue 40 year-old policy of making a few wealthy at the expense of Mainers.

How many more Mainers must lose their jobs before the Legislature takes action? It’s time to switch off expensive energy and plug into the affordable reserves of natural gas and hydropower that can lower costs, jumpstart business development and create good jobs for Maine people.

Thank You,

Paul R. LePage

Governor

 

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