Governor LePage to Testify before House Subcommittee on Energy and Power

May 12, 2015

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, May 12, 2015
Contact: Adrienne Bennett, Press Secretary, (207) 287-2531

AUGUSTA – Taking decisive action to address uncompetitive energy costs in the state, Governor LePage is traveling to Washington, D.C., to testify before the House Energy and Commerce’s Subcommittee on Energy and Power.

The hearing, scheduled for 10 a.m. on Wednesday, will review draft legislation to improve the permitting of interstate natural gas pipelines, along with a draft bill to reduce the regulatory burdens on hydropower production. In addition, the Governor has introduced three legislative proposals aimed at reducing energy costs for Maine’s businesses and residents.

“Our federal permitting process must reflect the urgency of getting these projects built,” said Governor LePage. “Maine businesses are spending too much on energy, and the legislation before Congress would help by ensuring that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission can spearhead the effort to review key projects that will bring relief on energy bills. We need a federal permitting process that works to get these projects done.”

In addition, the Governor has introduced three bills to lower the cost of energy for Maine’s businesses. These include the following:

  • “An Act to Reduce Electric Rates for Maine Businesses.” The legislation would refund a portion of the pollution auction collected under the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) back to ratepayers. Specifically, starting in July 2015, 55 percent of funds collected under RGGI (approximately $5.7 million in FY 2014) would be returned directly to business ratepayers, thus lowering their electricity rates. The legislation (LD 1398) is sponsored by Senator Garrett Mason.

  • “An Act to Improve Natural Gas Price Competitiveness for Maine’s Manufacturers.” The bill authorizes the Public Utilities Commission to aid large natural gas users in obtaining adequate natural gas supplies at a reasonable cost. Utilizing the PUC’s existing authority to contract for natural gas capacity, this bill would permit large natural gas users to contract for their own supplies, using the state’s transmission and distribution utilities as the creditworthy “backstop” for the supply contract. The bill (LD 1399) is sponsored by Senator David Burns.

  • “An Act to Focus Energy Laws on Energy Cost.” The bill takes several actions to reduce energy costs for Mainers. The legislation authorizes the Public Utilities Commission to encourage aggregation of distributed generation (i.e., energy produced near where it is used), thus capturing the benefits of such generation for ratepayers. The bill also makes several changes to the state’s complex renewable energy policies, to encourage procuring clean energy sources at a lower cost. The bill changes the state’s long-term contracting authority to focus on lower-cost projects, and it eliminates both the net energy billing program and the state’s renewable portfolio standard. These subsidy programs are paid for by all ratepayers, but, at current pricing, are doing little to encourage development of cost-effective renewable energy. The bill (LD 1400) is sponsored by Senator Woodsome.

The bills are likely to be referred to the Energy, Utilities, and Technology Committee for public hearing.