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Governor’s Address: Maine Has an Exciting Opportunity to Reduce Energy Costs

I have been talking about the need to reduce energy prices for nearly eight years. Maine is a manufacturing state, and high energy prices have a direct and negative affect on the cost of doing business and the ability to create good-paying jobs.

Central Maine Power Company won the proposal to create a transmission line to deliver electricity from renewal energy sources from Quebec to the State of Massachusetts. So my administration is now seeking input from experts on how we can benefit from this new era in Maine energy policy and options.

CMP’s transmission line is Maine’s first direct high-voltage electric interconnection with Quebec, which is good news. But the selection process that chose CMP’s transmission line also included several other transmission and energy supply proposals within or close to Maine. These proposals could also benefit our state.

Maine already exports more electricity than we consume, and our state is easily self-reliant when it comes to electricity. Nearly all of our electricity is produced from renewable and lower-carbon sources. But other New England states have yet to achieve these results.

As states to our south increasingly look to Maine and Canada to meet their renewable energy and low-carbon needs, Maine’s opportunities and responsibilities increase, along with energy prices.

We need to find ways to lower energy costs for Mainers. I am directing the Governor’s Energy Office to work with the Public Utilities Commission and the Public Advocate to report on the issues Maine should consider in this changing energy world and look toward ways to make Maine’s energy competitive.

I also ask Maine’s electric utilities, gas companies and consumer electricity groups to identify how we can reduce our energy costs and improve the lives of Maine citizens. Our goal is to reduce the costs of electricity for our ratepayers.

We are inviting input from regional, state and international organizations that deal with electricity and energy supply and reliability. These entities include ISO-New England, Northern Maine Transmission Corporation and North American Electric Regulatory Council.

We want to determine the possible efficiencies and benefits, especially reduced cost to ratepayers, that can be gained by a greater electrical integration of Maine with our neighboring Canadian provinces.

We also want to identify any obstacles to creating a more integrated electricity system between Maine and our neighboring Canadian provinces. For instance, there may be existing cross-border institutions, trade agreements or other mechanisms that could facilitate such improved integration.

We also need to determine how Canada can assist in the supply of natural gas to Maine. Massachusetts is blocking our ability to increase natural gas capacity to Maine. If we cannot get more natural gas from the south, we should look to our neighbors to the north and the ocean to the east.

Thank you for listening.

Paul LePage

Governor

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