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Governor’s Address: PUC decision confirms ratepayers pay twice

Our electricity rates are far above the national average—Maine has moved up from the 12th highest rates to the 11th highest in the United States.

Dear Maine Taxpayer,

High rates have destroyed our industrial base, our commercial base and, more importantly, are causing higher rates for those who can least afford it, our retirees.

The decision by the Public Utilities Commission to compensate owners of solar panels for transmission and distribution is taking Maine in the wrong direction. It increases prices on ratepayers by charging them twice for T and D of electricity.

I agree solar customers should be compensated for the electricity they generate at fair market rates. However, other Mainers should not have to subsidize their installation costs to make solar viable.

If affluent people choose to put expensive solar panels on their roof, poor and elderly Mainers should not have to pay for it.

The PUC is shifting the burden away from those who have the resources to afford roof-top solar installations and onto ratepayers, including low-income and elderly customers.

They are also putting more of a burden on businesses that are already operating on very thin margins and cannot afford to pay higher rates. Businesses need all the help they can get to stay competitive and create good jobs. Raising electricity rates is taking resources away from higher wages.

This rate hike was pushed by environmentalists, special interests, the public advocate and some Legislative leaders. Rather than protect Maine ratepayers, the PUC caved to special interests.

Even worse, wealthy people with solar panels are being paid for the excess electricity they generate and for the transmission and distribution of the excess power. But Emera and CMP also charge the ratepayers to transmit and distribute this excess electricity.

That means ratepayers are being charged twice so affluent people who put solar panels on their roof can recoup their money faster.

The solar industry lining its pockets on the backs of hardworking Mainers—not to mention our poor and most vulnerable who can least afford it.

We should be able to agree on a sensible energy policy. We should provide the most affordable energy that does the least harm to the environment.

But liberals continue to support their favorite—and very expensive—forms of renewal energy. They have no political desire to reduce rates for Mainers, and they continue to deny the harm they are doing to our job creators and our economy. Put very simply, higher rates leave less money for higher wages.

We are going backwards. But I will continue to fight to lower rates for our elderly and poor Mainers and for our businesses that create good jobs. Someone has to protect them from wealthy special interests and lobbyists in the halls of the State House.

Thank You,

Paul R. LePage

Governor

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