Gov. LePage has promised a business-friendly energy policy, but it all depends on what business you are talking about.

His bill that would stop the diversification of Maine’s electricity portfolio would not help the businesses that want to invest billions of dollars in Maine on renewable energy projects, including wind, tidal, biomass and solar. It would not help a manufacturer who wants to invest in efficiency, but needs to lock into a long-term energy contract to finance it.

LePage’s plan would help ratepayers, who would see a drop in their electricity rates. That would be a drop of 40 cents a month.

It’s easy to see why Paul Williamson, director of the Maine Wind Industry Initiative, had to ask in frustration, “Aren’t you talking about jumping over dollars to get nickels?”

What’s at the heart of this debate is differing views on what causes Maine to have above-average electrical costs. Some analysts argue that it’s because we are not near coal-fired plants or federally subsidized hydroelectric dams that produce cheap power in the Great Lakes region and Pacific Northwest.

LePage apparently believes the prices result from a regulatory climate that favors renewable power generation.


If that’s true, the governor has not yet proved the case, and his submission of a late-session bill that would create uncertainty for investors is hardly business-friendly. In his Saturday radio address, LePage dismisses the jobs these projects create as temporary construction jobs, but he doesn’t indicate what other jobs he has in mind to replace them. In this economy, we don’t see how a governor of Maine could turn up his nose at any jobs.

The Legislature’s Energy Committee worked on this proposal Friday and is scheduled to resume work this week. The usually bipartisan committee has a chance to reshape this bill into something that would really affect Maine’s energy costs.

What’s needed is a study that could determine the real cause of Maine’s high energy costs and report back to the Legislature next year. Any action on those findings would be taken by this Legislature and this governor, but they would be armed with something they don’t have now — solid information about what the real problems are and what they can do about them.


Comments are no longer available on this story