I am writing in response to your May 23 editorial, “LePage has not made case for energy overhaul.”

You wrote: “What’s needed is a study that could determine the real cause of Maine’s high energy costs.” I have some answers.

The first cause is the high cost of transmission of electricity in a state as rural and sparsely populated as Maine.

The second cause is the way we generate the energy in the first place. Many states enjoy cheaper electricity because they burn large amounts of coal. North Dakota, which had the lowest residential rates per kilowatt hour in January, generates four-fifths of its electricity with coal.

However, burning coal generates vast amounts of carbon dioxide and ash that contains heavy metals and other toxic substances, including sulfur dioxide, which causes acid rain. Acid rain damages our forests, and other ecosystems, upon which Maine depends for its paper, timber, and tourism industries. North Dakota pays the price of environmental degradation that results from mining and burning coal.

Less than 1 percent of Maine’s electricity comes from coal. Half of our electricity comes from burning natural gas, which is far cleaner than coal; about a third comes from hydro; and most of the rest comes from burning wood and wood-derived fuels.

Are we paying electricity prices 42 percent higher than the national average? Yes. Should we follow Gov. LePage’s plan, save the average home a whopping $4.80 a year, and discourage further renewable energy projects? No.

The same things that make Maine’s electricity expensive make Maine, Maine. Natural gas and renewable energy, like hydro and biomass, make us a model for the nation. Let’s not forget our state motto: “Dirigo,” which means “I lead.”