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Energy bill vote angers Governor 

Credit:  Written by Krister Rollins, News Center, www.wcsh6.com 2 April 2012 ~~

Governor Paul LePage is taking aim at eight Legislators who voted against one of his energy bills – and is calling on his supporters to lobby the Legislators to change their minds.

The Governor wants to change a twelve-year old law that regulates the purchase of renewable electricity in Maine. That law says that to qualify under Maine’s Renewable Energy Portfolio standards, the power must come from sources smaller than 100 megawatts.

The Governor wants to lift that hundred megawatt cap, because he and his energy director believe it would open the way for Maine to buy less expensive hydro power from Canada. But the Legislature’s energy committee voted against the Governor, with a majority of members deciding to have the Public Utilities Commission first advertise for cheaper electricity, and find out if any Canadian or U.S. companies are willing to sell the state electricity at lower cost.

The Governor called it an “extremely disappointing” decision, and on Friday night, he sent out an e-mail, criticizing the vote, listing the names of the two republicans and six democrats who votes against him and asking their constituents to persuade them to change their votes.

Rep. Stacey Fitts (R-Pittsfield) is one of those Legislators and co-chair of the committee. Fitts says the Governor’s plan would harm existing Maine businesses that generate renewable power now, and is no guarantee of lower cost power from Canada.

Fitts says the committee majority plan would determine if any laws need changing to purchase reduced-price power, assuming it is available. But Fitts is one of only two Republicans on the committee to vote against the Governor.

Sen. Mike Thibodeau (R-Winterport) supported the Governor’s proposal, and blames the opposition on special interests, as does the Governor. State Energy Director Ken Fletcher says the proposal the Governor supports would restrict any individual large electric generator from providing more than 10% of the state’s electric needs.

The bill, L.D. 1863, was expected to have its first debate in the Senate Monday night.

Source:  Written by Krister Rollins, News Center, www.wcsh6.com 2 April 2012

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