L.D. 1791, the bill introduced by Gov. LePage to “enhance local economic benefits” related to wind energy, is misguided and poor economic policy.

The bill has three major elements: to remove official state targets for wind energy generation, require projects demonstrate a costs savings to Maine rate payers and require wind projects utilize local manufacturing.

So the bill wants to reduce the scale of development and thus the number of components being used while forcing investment in local manufacturing to serve a market being downsized by government policies, and at the same time, require price reduction.

This is analogous to asking car dealers to sell fewer cars in Maine at lower prices while requiring the major automakers to source components from Maine if they want to sell through local dealers.

The known recipe for encouraging investment and reducing price is to expand a market. Approximately 500 megawatts of wind energy has been developed in Maine.

To attract major manufacturing plants to a region, you need to develop policy that ensures a minimum of 2,000 megawatts of development every two years. This is what many of the Midwest and Southwest states, such as Iowa, Kansas and Texas, have done, and subsequently they have also reduced their electricity rates.

But you cannot create growth through policy that hobbles development. You cannot demand investment in manufacturing without market policies that support the overall growth of the industry sector. These are fundamental principles of economic growth and development.

We don’t require Maine schools to buy textbooks from Maine publishers. Gas pipelines being laid in Maine are not required to use pipe manufactured in Maine. Hospitals are not required to source Maine medical devices before operating in Maine. If Maine is open for business, state policies should reflect an open economy.

Paul Williamson

executive director, Maine Ocean and Wind Energy Initiative

Portland