Governor's weekly radio address

Energy proposal a 'job killer'

By Gov. Paul LePage | Jan 21, 2012
Gov. Paul LePage

The following is text from the governor's Jan. 21, 2012, radio address. To listen, click the MP3 link below.

"Hello. This is Governor Paul LePage.

By now, it’s likely you have heard about a coalition that is trying to increase your electricity bill.

This plan would mandate Maine’s electricity providers to buy quadruple the amount of expensive renewable energy.

The bottom line is it would force Maine consumers to subsidize special interest groups.

Those who would cash in on this plan make a lot of claims, but what they won’t tell you is that Maine is currently a renewable energy leader acquiring 35 percent of its electricity from renewable sources. In fact, Maine has already the highest renewable content in the nation by far.

Perhaps, what is the most disheartening aspect of their proposal is how much it will cost Mainers.

The Maine Public Utilities Commission has estimated that in order to comply with this group’s proposal, ratepayers would see increases in electricity costs by $44 to $88 million per year.

What these special interest groups won’t tell you is that they will be the profiteers. In a time when Maine families are struggling to pay their bills this initiative would be padding the pockets of companies with hard earned taxpayer dollars.

Maine has the 12th highest electricity prices in the nation with rates 40 percent higher than the national average.  In 1990, Maine’s electricity rates were 16 percent higher than the national average.

In the last two decades, Maine people and businesses have lost ground as compared to the rest of the nation.

High electricity prices are hurting the economy and job growth.

While it is true that a few developers and generators benefit from ratepayer subsidies and temporary jobs would be created, increasing electricity prices will have a far greater negative overall impact on job growth.

If these people get their way we're not going to be able to bring business to Maine. Businesses have expressed to me on a number of occasions that Maine must lower its energy costs so we’re competitive. This is not making us competitive. We've had this plan analyzed by the energy office and by the chair of the PUC. This is a job killer.

Rather than let the free market decide, the coalition’s proposal would by-pass the legislature and put in law that certain sources of energy must be used regardless of the cost impact to consumers.

My approach is to give ratepayers the choice when it comes to energy decisions, rather than government imposing mandates on Maine people.

This year, consumers will have the choice to select more renewable energy through a new offering from the Maine Public Utilities Commission.  Why not let the consumers who are paying the bills decide if they want more renewable energy?

I support all energy technologies that are economically viable and sustainable. Today, we have options that are encouraging people to reduce fuel oil consumption and protect our environment.

In fact, because people have options, households are becoming more energy conscious.  We are expanding economical alternatives like natural gas, biomass and wood pellets and geothermal. Solar hot water heaters and electronic thermal storage are also working to lower energy cost.

As the technology changes – and it is rapidly – we will continue to seek environmentally friendly alternatives which will lower peoples’ and businesses’ energy costs.

But forcing Mainers to pay more right now is not the responsible approach. This coalition is picking winners and losers – they win, we lose. The reality is special interest groups will get rich while we pay higher rates.

Strengthening our economy and safeguarding our quality of life can be done, but we must not take away Mainers’ ability to choose what’s best for them.

Thank you for listening to my perspective and I encourage you to learn more about how this costly plan would affect you."

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