AUGUSTA — State regulators have formally approved $13.4 million in contracts to bail out struggling biomass companies in Aroostook, Penobscot and Washington counties.

The Maine Legislature this year passed a law to supplement the prices that the companies get for selling electricity on the regional grid for up to two years. The $13.4 million comes from Maine’s general fund.

The Maine Public Utilities Commission approved contracts for Re-Energy Holdings’ biomass plants in Ashland and Fort Fairfield and shuttered West Enfield and Jonesboro biomass plants that were bought by the French subsidiary Stored Solar.

Members of Maine’s forest and biomass industries said the contracts would help save the ailing industry, including 400 biomass plant jobs.

If the companies don’t provide the benefits they’re supposed to, like permanent jobs, regulators can reduce contract payments.

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