WEST ENFIELD – I read the headine of the recent Press Herald article, “Energy bill’s savings: $4.80 a year per home,” with dismay.

Obviously the headline would lead the reader to believe that Gov. LePage’s energy proposal will have minimal impact on the energy rates of Maine residents and businesses.

This perception could not be more distant from the truth.

The Baldacci administration’s energy policy mandated that power companies purchase an annually increasing percentage of narrowly defined and more costly “renewable” energy, such as heavily subsidized wind power, each year. This policy started with an initial mandate and required an increase every year thereafter.

As anyone who understands business would realize, this forced power companies to pass on these additional costs to ratepayers.

At its core, the Baldacci administration energy policy made power rates for residential and commercial ratepayers a perennial runner-up in favor of other priorities. Instead of working to save the people of Maine money and lowering energy costs for our job creators, the Baldacci administration favored industries sustained with corporate welfare and dependent on rising power rates.

Rising costs were a necessary component of pushing for the growth of these new and government-subsidized industries. In an effort to drive Maine away from proven power sources and into the new definition of “renewable,” the Baldacci administration willfully watched, if not encouraged, rates to rise to make alternative sources more viable.

Maine people and Maine’s job creators are now left with the 12th-highest electricity rates in the nation. Maine’s electricity rates are 42 percent higher than the national average. Our per-capita income languishes far behind our neighbors in New Hampshire, and the Maine State Chamber of Commerce has released a survey of its members that highlighted high energy costs as a top concern.

Supporters of Baldacci’s energy policy claim that moving away from mandated purchasing of certain renewables could affect economic growth.

It may be true that without government mandates and subsidies, a few temporary jobs will be lost — mostly taxpayer-subsidized ones.

But this is not sustainable economic growth. It is simply the use of tax dollars and government mandates to enable companies to create short-term jobs and forcing the Maine consumer support it.

True sustainability in Maine’s economy comes from the organic growth of jobs by private companies large and small. True economic growth comes from companies created by entrepreneurs, not industries dictated by bureaucrats or politicians.

How can we create a favorable environment for this type of economic sustainability? By working to ensure energy rates stay stable. Job creators won’t move to Maine, or look to grow within Maine, if they can’t be sure of future costs.

Rather than worry about the fact that this proposal only reduces rates slightly, Maine people should be embracing an approach that not only recognizes the reality that Maine’s energy costs have grown out of control, but also makes a serious effort at heading off future cost increases.

Let’s work toward lowering our rates, spurring job creation and leveling the playing field for all energy producers.

If the “new renewables” as supported by the Baldacci administration can help lower costs without government welfare, they will.

Either way, Maine people win, because lower energy costs and job creation must be the most important component of Maine’s energy policy.

Late last year, when gasoline was at $2.75 per gallon, if you had been given a chance to support a state policy that would ensure you would only pay $2.70 or $2.72 per gallon this year, instead of nearly $4, would you have supported it?

I’m betting you would have. The LePage energy proposal strives to do just that with your energy rates, by ensuring they stay low and do not automatically increase in the future.

– Special to the Press Herald