Maine has a strong tradition of rivers powering our paper mills. In today’s extremely competitive market for paper products, many mills rely on hydropower for more than making paper. They sell it to the New England grid when peak prices are paid while idling machines for maintenance.

Years ago, our Legislature passed a special law forbidding the Great Northern Paper mills from benefiting from selling power. It made sense at the time to ensure that papermaking would remain the priority.

But today, separate companies own the mills and the hydro facilities, and the need to prohibit the mill from selling power over short periods no longer exists. Great Northern Paper has a multi-point plan to restructure and start up again to put more than 200 employees back to work – but it needs revenue from selling power for its plan to succeed.

L.D. 1792 is a simple and sensible change to allow Great Northern Paper to continue purchasing hydropower produced on our public waterway, the Penobscot River, and then sell it a few times per year for an additional source of revenue, which is critical to Great Northern Paper’s plan for long-term viability.

I know jobs in Maine’s Katahdin region can be scarce, so when a common-sense solution to putting people back to work is right in front of us, we must support it. I ask my fellow lawmakers to do the right thing for Maine and support L.D. 1792.

Rep. Stephen S. Stanley

D-Medway