February 17, 2013

Michael Cuzzi: Part of governor's energy reform plan deserves a closer look

With changes, some proposals could win bipartisan support and boost the economy.

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Eliminating the System Benefit Charge for all Maine businesses, then, is missing the forest for the trees.

The governor also wants to use the money Maine businesses currently pay for RGGI pass-through charges to instead reduce their electricity costs by allocating those funds to the Public Utilities Commission to reduce business rates.

The rationale the proposal is that coming changes to the RGGI program are expected to double Maine's annual RGGI revenues, reducing the need for business participation, especially as the commercial and industrial efficiency marketplaces continue to mature.

If the governor is suggesting that by redirecting these funds we should eliminate Efficiency Maine's business programs, then policy makers should think long and hard about the impacts. Businesses consume the majority of Maine's power and typically enjoy the largest economic, environmental and competitive return on efficiency investments.

The governor's single-minded determination to reduce business and residential energy costs is appropriate and admirable, if occasionally myopic. The devil is in the details, but the governor's RGGI reforms have the potential to find bi-partisan legislative support while advancing Maine's economic competitiveness.

Michael Cuzzi is a former campaign aide to President Barack Obama, former Sen. John Kerry and former U.S. Rep Tom Allen. He manages the Portland office for VOX Global, a strategic communications and public affairs firm headquartered in Washington, D.C. He can be contacted at:

mjcuzzi@gmail.com

Twitter @CuzziMJ

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