LePage blames Obama administration, King for higher energy costs

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Gov. Paul LePage

Gov. Paul LePage blamed wind and solar power for rising energy prices in Maine during his weekly message Saturday morning.

Hello. This is Governor Paul LePage.

This week heating oil increased by about 10 cents compared to this time last month. At nearly 3 dollars and seventy cents per gallon, many Mainers will experience another tough winter season trying to make ends meet.

As your Governor, I do not want to see anyone left out in the cold. The price of energy is on the rise and it is time elected officials be willing to address the issue both in Augusta and Washington, D.C. Politics should not play a role in heating your home, but it does.

Reducing Maine’s dependency on foreign oil is part of the solution. Every year we use 1.6 billion gallons of petroleum fuels which include oil, propane, diesel, gasoline and kerosene.

While energy efficiency is an important means of reducing energy costs, the greater utilization of more cost effective non-foreign oil sources will be essential to achieve our goal.

Through modest energy reforms, our Administration recognizes clean energy producers like biomass, thermal, and hydro as viable renewable sources. We can ensure all clean energy sources are treated fairly in the market so that costs go down, businesses can flourish, and Mainers have more money in their pockets.

The challenge is, however, that for years, the status quo has been that special interests here in Maine and Capitol Hill dictate which energy sources Mainers pay for and which ones are discriminated against – with no regard to the ratepayer.

Unfortunately, Maine’s renewable energy mandate will raise electricity prices by $145 million and cost Mainers nearly 1000 jobs. It is because Maine’s Renewable Portfolio Standard, often referred to as RPS, requires that some of the state’s electricity be generated by expensive “renewable” sources, like wind power and solar. The problem I have with this methodology is other green energy sources like hydropower are left out of the mix. Hydropower is clean and readily available in Maine. More importantly, it is inexpensive and can save Mainers a lot of money.

A recent report from the Maine Heritage Policy Center and Beacon Hill Institute affirms that Maine’s RPS will raise electricity prices by 8 percent in the next five years. This mandate is an economic barrier that we simply cannot afford; it is hurting Maine families and businesses.

Homeowners will pay $85 more per year on their electricity bill and business will pay more than $600 annually, according to the study. Industrial users will suffer the most taking on more than $14 thousand per year because of the mandate. We are losing business opportunities because of our high energy costs.

So how did this come to fruition? Maine’s first RPS law was established in 1999 under the King Administration. It’s unfortunate that some politicians after leaving office benefitted financially from those policies. Working the system to pad your pockets does not represent Maine values.

President Obama has supported this government welfare by spending $90 billion on programs and policies to green energy projects and failed companies. As Governor Mitt Romney pointed out during this week’s debate, this is billions of dollars that the president should have spent on other reliable energy sources or to support our teachers.

At the height of the presidential election campaign and with critical congressional and state legislative seats up for grab, Mainers must demand honesty and learn more about the people vying for votes.

The media is not looking out for your best interest, so it is up to each individual to do their homework on the issues. Do not be afraid to ask candidate’s tough questions when they knock at your door. And when they assume office, we must hold our elected officials accountable for their actions.

Too many failed policies have affected where we are today, and we cannot afford to continue on this path with so much on the line.

Thank you.

"It is because Maine’s Renewable Portfolio Standard, often referred to as RPS, requires that some of the state’s electricity be generated by expensive 'renewable' sources, like wind power and solar," says LePage.

LePage says Maine's Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) will increase elecricity costs by $145 million.

"Homeowners will pay $85 more per year on their electricity bill and business will pay more than $600 annually," says LePage - citing a study by the Maine Heritage Policy Center and Beacon Hill Institute. "Industrial users will suffer the most taking on more than $14,000 per year because of the mandate."

LePage says that will cost the state about 1,000 jobs.

He blamed former Gov. Angus King for instituting the RPS in 1999 and profiting from the policy after he left office. In 2007, King co-founded Independence Wind. The company helped create Record Hill, a 22-turbine, 50-megawatt wind farm in Roxbury.

LePage also tied politics to the cost of heating oil in Maine. "The challenge is, however, that for years, the status quo has been that special interests here in Maine and Capitol Hill dictate which energy sources Mainers pay for and which ones are discriminated against – with no regard to the ratepayer."

The Governor's Energy Office reports the average cost of heating oil in Maine is $3.68 per gallon - up 9 cents per gallon from last month.

John Peters, vice president of Downeast Energy, tells the Portland Press Herald that the cost of heating oil is influenced by many factors such as geo-political and world economic events. Jamie Py, president of the Maine Energy Marketers Association, told the Press Herald the price of oil is influenced heavily by commodity speculation in the global oil market.

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Alternative Energy

Alternative Energy
Just think of the energy savings by incorporating this into home, cars, and commercial electrical and heat support technologies.
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 's picture

We are waiting

Put your money where your mouth is Governor LePage. We have been waiting for you to initiate some common sense governing regarding our corrupted energy laws and law makers.
Electricity may raise 8%. However the cost our transmission of electricity from our remote mountaintops is a whole lot more than that. They have just gone up nearly 29%, without the PUC blinking an eye.
How about an overhaul that makes sense for Maine?
Get rid of the leaches that have attached themselves to our mountaintops.

 's picture

20% not 29%.

20% not 29%.

 's picture

PUC is complicit

Mary, thanks for correcting your mis-posting. But what we need to convey to everyone is the PUBLIC Utilities Commission is directly responsible for this gouging of the PUBLIC. The PUC, with all incumbent Baldacci appointees, voted to approve the $1.4 billion transmission expansion known as MPRP. The sole purpose of this is to transmit wind power from future projects throughout rural Maine to the southern New England market. The increase Mary refers to in the transmission portion of your CMP bill is just the first increase that we consumers and the Maine economy will be saddled with for the wind boondoggle.

Worse to come, and this is the point of the Governor's address, is the mandate that the most expensive and least reliable form of electricity generation, WIND, must be a certain percentage of our electricity mix, whether we want to pay for it or not. No choice, and worse, less expensive hydro from large producers was shut out by Baldacci era legislation for RPS as a favor to wind. When the government picks winners and losers and creates mandates based on ideological whim and not science and economics, we are in big trouble!

 's picture

LePage shifting the blame again.

Since when has any MHPC report been credible? 8% increase in 5 years, that's less than inflation. Instead of a partisan groundless speech, LePage should have dealt with the real issue and not just blab.
Yes, wind power in populated areas of Maine is dumb, unhelpful, and expensive. And Natural gas has gone down in price after doing damage in Western Pennsylvania similiar to the damage Wind Power is doing in Western Maine. Should we benefit from the injury done to our neighbors. Energy generation needs real, independent studies not partisan blowviating.

 's picture

LePage is Correct.

First, I know you hate the Governor, but he is sincere in recognizing the high energy costs are a huge impediment to Maine having a better economy and they are a burden to our people. He has tried to get something done about it, such as the proposal to cap the RPS rather than have it increase, further crippling our economy. Maine already has one of the highest % of electricity from renewables. He recognizes that the vast hydro power available from Canada could lower electricity costs, but only if we get rid of the heinous Baldacci era exclusion of large hydro sources, which was put in place to protect Baldacci's buddies in the wind industry from lower cost competition. LePage is also behind initiatives to expand natural gas availability, a daunting task in a state with small population clusters and few large users. But this plan is laudable.

Most important to me is that LePage campaigned on the premise that all energy proposals would be considered. But only those that would benefit Maine businesses and Maine residents by lowering costs would be backed by the Governor. In the meantime, he and his energy director Ken Fletcher have continued to understand the situation with wind power. Like most people who go beyond the hype and the lobbying by the wind industry and actually understand what a feckless, costly source wind turbines are and the scars they inflict on Maine's uplands, the Governor is saying correctly that wind power will only increase our costs.

 's picture

It's 5:00pm and the New

It's 5:00pm and the New England grid is accommodating electrical demand at 13,500 megawatts. Wind's contribution is zero.

 's picture

Wind contributes nothing when needed

The highest demand for electricity in New England this year was July 12, 13, 14. In southern New England, it topped 90 degrees each of thoses days, making it officially a heat wave. I was at Silver Lake in Lee on vacation. Silver Lake is one of the Lincoln Lakes that are devastated by the sprawling Rollins Wind project. There wasn't a breath of wind the entire 6 days I was in Lee. I watched the Rollins turbines. They were either locked down, or just slowly rotating in "free spin", not engaged to the generator.

During the time that ISO-NE needed the most electricity this year, unreliable, non-dispatchable wind produced---nothing! Where did extra capacity come from to meet demand? The Wyman plant on Cousins Island in Yarmouth, Maine fired up full production, burning--oil! When it is in generation mode (not idling which it does most of the time), this plant is the largest single point source of air pollution in Maine. So much for wind power reducing carbon and air pollution!

If you do not believe me, you can go to the ISO-NE website and get the raw data as well as seeing the graphs of energy demand and contribution of megawatts by source of generation. There is a direct inverse relationship to the demand for electricity increasing that hot week and the contribution from wind declining.

 's picture

As a business owner, I

As a business owner, I appreciate that Governor LePage is looking out for business interests in this state. Energy costs are the biggest obstacle to our bottom line. We tied into natural gas this spring and are saving 60% of heating costs which is huge. Our electricity rates just jumped due to the unnecessary beefing up of transmission lines by CMP (owned by Iberdrola of Spain, NOT Maine) to serve outlying, remotely sited (and completely unnecessary) proposed industrial wind facilities on our mountains and ridge lines. Hydro power needs to be reclassified as a renewable. Special interest groups should not be allowed to control our legislature and bankrupt this state. The PUC should be looking out for the ratepayer. We don't need industrial wind, but we do need tourism's ten billion dollar boost to our economy. Keep Maine beautiful, and keep Maine businesses healthy!

 's picture

It's 12:15 pm and Maine has

It's 12:15 pm and Maine has an installed rating of wind at 370 megawatts. The New England grid is passing 13,055 megawatts to demand. Wind is contributing 9 megawatts. That's right 9 of 13,055.

 's picture

Wind contributes nothing, as usual

That works out to 7 one hundredths of one percent or pretty much nothing, nada, zero.

 's picture

Not that I have anything

Not that I have anything against politics, but facts and numbers are much more apt to help the ratepayers make decisions on their electric bill, especially when government wants to control the market with non-science based mandates.

 's picture

PUC needs to Pay Attention

The PUC needs to pay attention to those numbers, as the fate of the Maine economy and how much Maine ratepayers get gouged is up to them. The staff at PUC understands, but the Commissioners don't. Witness the PUC going against staff recommendation and the Maine Public Advocate earlier this year in approving the merger of Emera and First Wind. First Wind is the bankrupt company that had so much debt that it couldn't even float an IPO, yet the Maine PUC allowed it to gain yet another life (if First Wind was a cat, it would be on about it's 15th life, not just 9).

This deal, being appealed, will guarantee far more destruction of Maine countrside for wind power, keep feeding absurd and arbitrary RPS, and send electrcity rates through the roof. The Maine PUC gave it's blessing to the most expensive and environmentally destructive form of electricity generation. Shame on them!

FRANK EARLEY's picture

Now there's a blast from the past....

I love how LePage just throws around those numbers, it's almost as if he wants you to think he knows what he's talking about. His mention of the Beacon Hill Institute was like a blast from the past. You don't hear much of it around here, but if you were a college student in Boston in the early nineties, which I was, you heard mention of it. Just to give you an idea, take two hundred Mitt Romney's and put them in one room, you have the BHI. The fact that LePage has even heard of this group amazes me. There's just one other thing, in his list of sources for this speech, along with reports from the Maine Heritage Policy Center, and the Beacon Hill Institute, he left out Google Search.....

 's picture

The is a sound analysis

I am very familiar with the data used by Beacon Hill & MHPC. The information is public, if you know where to find it. The analysis and projections are sound. It is the wind industry that has been lying to us all these years. The numbers speak for themselves. Since when has 25% capacity factor for an electricity supplier been acceptable? Since when has capital costs so high that it guarantees higher rates acceptable when there are less expensive and more reliable alternatives? The favoritism to the wind industry is unprecedented and unwarranted. The mandates for it are heinous and arbitrary. All we are doing is digging a much bigger hole for the Maine economy and for hard working Maine ratepayers by embracing expensive and useless wind power.

FRANK EARLEY's picture

The information is more tan easy to acquire....

Information from BHI, is almost as easy to acquire as static electricity. Why do you suppose that is? I only believe non biased independent information. I don't consider information from an organization founded by a former head of the RNC,who is also a multi- millionaire. They used to brag about how they were there to protect us from ourselves, at least that is what I could gather from the NUMEROUS leaflets left on my windshield while attending classes at BU. There were only two reasons I remember them at all. One: they tried telling me what I had to think, Two: They accomplished this with leaflets, left on my windshield several days per week. I hate anyone touching my car. There you have it, another reason to hate "Rich Republicans"......

RONALD RIML's picture

Maine Heritage Policy Center?

Now there's a reliable source of renewable BS - with a direct pipeline into Paulie's Propaganda Machine....

Steve  Dosh's picture

LePage blames Obama administration, King for higher energy costs

t y v m Scott. 12.10.06 10:40 am ish HST ? Saturday
. . bunch 'o Bozos , they are :D
h t h http://climate.nasa.gov/
/s Steve


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