By Governor Paul R. LePage
The State House halls are filled with policymakers, the bell is ringing and debates have begun. Once again, Maine’s Legislators are in the State House, working for you.
I stand by my promise to put people before politics and pledge to do what’s best for Maine people. During the next few months, you will hear the word “jobs” from both Democrats and Republicans.
In the first year of my administration Maine’s unemployment rate has gone down from 7.6 percent to 7 percent. However, there is more work to be done. Nearly 50,000 people are still out of work and many are worried about job security.
Democrats and Republicans alike have similar goals this session; but we have different ideas on how to achieve them.
I believe we can improve our economy and lower the unemployment rate by first addressing Maine’s high energy costs. Mainers currently pay 42 percent above the national average for electricity. High energy costs are putting job-killing demands on Maine’s private sector job creators.
I am going to work hard this session to lower energy costs for Maine’s ratepayers. However, there is a proposal before the Maine people that will force ratepayers to pay higher electricity prices.
The Maine Citizen’s for Clean Energy Coalition is collecting signatures for a November ballot initiative that would tremendously increase costs on Maine’s ratepayers, while padding the pockets of a select few special interest groups in Augusta. The question would ask voters if they want to require that at least 20 percent of Maine’s electricity come from new, renewable energy sources by 2020.
The proposal would force ratepayers to use and pay for higher-priced electricity. This will place an enormous burden on Maine people, adding approximately $50 million annually to people’s electricity costs.
Rather than let the free-market decide, the coalition’s proposal would mandate that certain sources of generation must be used—regardless of the cost to ratepayers. My approach is to allow ratepayers to have choices in energy sources, rather than having a government-imposed requirement.
Ratepayers will have the choice, in the first quarter of this year, to select renewable energy through a new offering from the Maine Public Utilities Commission. I support all forms of renewable energy sources that are cost-effective and sustainable. I do not support ratepayers being forced to buy certain types of alternative energy against their own will—especially if it’s more expensive.
I believe it is time for the Maine ratepayers and taxpayers to be represented in Augusta. They should no longer take a back seat to a select few special interests that benefit from government-imposed mandates. The coalition’s proposal would add hundreds of millions of dollars to consumers’ electricity bills for the benefit of a few select developers and generators.
These same developers and generators have come to realize that their technologies cannot compete in the free market and, therefore, must receive subsidies to survive.
While my Administration continues to work tirelessly to lower Maine people’s electricity and energy costs, it is disheartening to see that there are still groups that want to raise energy costs on already overburdened Maine ratepayers, all for the benefit of their own special interests. I do not support giving unelected bureaucrats a “blank check” to tax, spend and reduce transparency—similar to what happened with the Maine Turnpike Authority.
Maine’s elected officials need to focus on promoting job creation by reducing energy costs for Maine businesses and residents. We can no longer afford to miss out on economic opportunities here in Maine.
Maine people deserve the opportunity to be prosperous again. Maine people deserve more and better-paying jobs. This coordinated effort will be harmful to Maine people.
So, if you are asked to sign this petition, please take the time to understand this important issue. After all, you’re the one paying the bill.