Wednesday, March 12, 2014
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Another element would attempt to slash $200 million a year from Maine's electricity costs by making natural gas cheaper in New England. Half of the region's power plants burn gas, but inadequate pipeline capacity has been causing gas prices, and associated wholesale electricity prices, to spike in the winter.
One remedy, supporters hope, is to give the PUC authority to help contract for new gas capacity in the region, spurring construction of a new pipeline.
Another element would allocate $6 million to $10 million over six years for electricity conservation projects for large users, such as factories and hospitals.
The package also is noteworthy for omitting elements that were in earlier bills but were rejected by the governor and some special interests. For instance, it wouldn't raise the system benefits charge to increase funds for Efficiency Maine's programs, nor would it shift RGGI money from energy efficiency to other programs, such as fuel switching.
With time running out in the session, the challenge for the energy committee is to craft a final bill that's acceptable to the Legislature and LePage, and will create cost reductions that a wide spectrum of Mainers will notice.
Tux Turkel can be contacted at 791-6324 or at: