Funding Follows Push By Governor Mills
Governor Janet Mills today praised Congressional passage of a federal appropriations package containing $1 billion in emergency supplemental funding for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). The funding will provide an additional estimated $8 million to Maine to help ensure that Maine people are able to safely heat their homes this winter.
In anticipation of continued volatility in global energy markets, Governor Mills pressed federal officials to provide more funding for LIHEAP. In July, the Governor wrote to the Biden Administration urging an increase in LIHEAP funding and the Administration did include additional funding in its proposal. Earlier this week, the Governor joined her fellow New England governors to urge Congressional leaders to prioritize additional supplemental LIHEAP funds as they considered a short-term government funding measure.
“The Russian invasion of Ukraine has pushed the price of home heating fuels to historic highs. This additional LIHEAP funding will help to ensure that Maine’s most vulnerable seniors and families can heat their homes this winter,” said Governor Janet Mills. “I thank Maine’s Congressional Delegation for its advocacy which helped secure this funding. My Administration will continue to do everything possible to help Maine people stay warm as the colder months approach.”
This year, the Mills Administration has taken direct action to help Maine people with the rising costs of energy, including:
- Returning more than half of the state’s budget surplus to Maine people through $850 inflation relief checks;
- Opposing a 30 percent electricity rate increase sought by Central Maine Power and a similar increase proposed by Versant Power;
- Securing a one-time bill credit of $90 for tens of thousands of low-income customers of Central Maine Power and Versant Power;
- Providing $800 in heating cost relief to nearly 13,000 low-income households to help pay for high energy costs;
- Signing into law LD 2010, sponsored by Senate President Jackson, that will make a tiered credit of up to $3,000 available to Maine small businesses to offset increases in the standard offer for electricity;
- Providing up to $1,400 in tax relief for eligible low- and middle-income Maine families and seniors.
Maine is the most heating oil dependent state in the country, with 60 percent of homes reliant on oil, compared to a national average of 4 percent. This makes Maine especially vulnerable to changes in global energy markets, with Maine consumers spending more than $4 billion annually to import fossil fuels into the state prior to the Russia-induced price spike.
The Mills Administration has made reducing Maine’s reliance on fossil fuels a priority by enacting some of the boldest renewable energy, emissions reductions, and carbon neutrality goals in the nation, with the bipartisan support of the Legislature.
For example, as a result of bipartisan legislation signed by Governor Mills in 2019, Maine has advanced competitive renewable energy procurements that have resulted in contracts for the development of 24 renewable energy projects to deliver low-cost, locally generated power to Maine ratepayers.
The low-cost renewable energy from three of these projects already in operation resulted in the Maine Public Utilities Commission in June approving electricity rate reductions of 5.5 percent for CMP customers and 4 percent for Versant Power customers.
This week, the Maine PUC approved further rate reductions for higher-consumption electricity customers as early as October 1, based on legislation signed by Governor Mills.
Additionally, the Mills Administration has supported incentivizing the installation of more than 80,000 high efficiency heat pumps in homes, businesses, and public buildings around the state, and making significant investments to weatherize homes, to expand our clean energy and energy efficiency workforce, and to increase efficient, affordable housing options for Maine people through the Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan, also approved by the Legislature.