AUGUSTA – Maine regulators are considering whether to cut back on a proposed spending increase for energy efficiency programs.

Efficiency Maine Trust has proposed a plan to spend $217 million over the next three years. Staff at the Public Utilities Commission recommends the spending plan be scaled back by $45 million.

The commission on Wednesday began holding hearings on the plan and will make a decision by the end of April.

Fees assessed to gas and electric companies and passed on to customers provide the majority of funding for the state’s efficiency program. To win approval from regulators, products funded by the program must pay for themselves with energy savings.