Energy in Maine's 2016 State of the State

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Maine Governor Paul LePage has released his 2016 State of the State remarks in the form of a letter to the state legislature.  Among his top priorities detailed in the letter is addressing the high cost of electricity in the manufacturing and industrial sectors.  The eight-page letter also focuses on themes including welfare reform, lowering the income tax, reducing student debt and attracting youth, and fighting the drug crisis.

Energy issues appear in Governor LePage's letter as a focus for -- or obstacle to -- economic development.  In the letter, he repeats his position that "Maine's electricity prices are not competitive."  The letter criticizes legislative mandates supporting "long-term contracts for above-market rates" as adding $38 million in ratepayer costs.

The letter also addresses Maine's renewable energy policy, calling for support for Maine's biomass energy industry while criticizing the economics of wind and solar energy projects:
Socialists love to subsidize new wind and solar energy projects because they think it will save the earth, but that kind of expensive and inefficient energy benefits only a few wealthy investors, and our electrical generation is already one of the cleanest in the country. Instead, let's support the existing Maine-based biomass infrastructure that is already in place to take advantage of our plentiful natural resource: wood.
Indeed, references to socialism and socialists appear twelve times throughout Governor LePage's 2016 State of the State letter.  (A reference to Senator Bernie Sanders' candidacy for President?)

In his letter, Governor LePage also called for expansion of linear infrastructure like natural gas pipelines into New England and electric transmission lines to hydropower resources in Canada:
Meanwhile, my Administration continues to make progress working with other New England states to expand hydropower and natural gas into our region. Right now there is construction underway to expand our pipelines into New England, and clean and affordable hydropower is right next door in Quebec. It's time to switch off expensive energy. We must plug into the affordable reserves of nearby natural gas and hydropower. We must be willing to transmit hydropower to the states south of us.
These themes of energy infrastructure investment echo those playing out elsewhere in the Northeast U.S., as states explore expanded connections to natural gas from the Marcellus shale and Canadian hydropower.

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