Wednesday, March 12, 2014
By Patrick Woodcock
The vision from the LePage administration to lower energy costs is not only critical for businesses, it is central to hardworking Maine families. Mainers spend more than 50 percent more than the national average on household energy costs, and the administration does not support adding to this burden.
The editorial "PUC offshore wind call right for Maine's future" (Jan. 27) lauding the Public Utilities Commission's approval of Statoil's pilot project was way off the mark by claiming the administration "pressured" the commission to vote one way or another.
The Governor's Energy Office submitted written comments raising significant concerns regarding costs to Maine ratepayers as well as the administration's determination that this energy giant has failed to demonstrate specific investments in Maine's economy as the law requires. The letter is part of the public record.
If the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram is establishing this as the standard for pressure, then by that logic the PUC bowed to the pressure of one recently elected federal official, large construction companies and environmental groups, as well as a multinational oil company -- all of which submitted supportive comments. This is far from "political pressure" -- this is public debate.
The administration will continue to raise substantive concerns that this project increases electricity bills, hinders the University of Maine from developing an alternative pilot project at a lower cost, and fails to provide assurances that our manufacturing sector will receive capital investments that will increase long-term employment in Maine.
The truth is that the project's benefits to Maine are ambiguous, while the costs to our state are clear and real -- nearly $200 million will need to be subsidized by Maine families and businesses. This is the wrong direction for developing a new industry and antithetical to improving Maine's business climate and reducing the energy bill burdens on Maine families.
Patrick Woodcock is the director of the Governor's Energy Office.