AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — Maine Gov. Paul LePage used his weekly radio address Saturday to tout his proposal to change the state’s renewable energy mandate, a plan critics say will increase dependence on fossil fuels.
LePage’s original bill aimed to give electric consumers a choice to buy a “green power standard” offer as part of the Maine Utility Commission program. The idea was to give Mainers the option of selecting up to 100 percent from renewable energy choices rather be subjected to a 1 percent year-to-year increase under current law.
Under the current requirement, 4 percent of Maine’s electricity must come from renewable energy sources. LePage’s proposal would stop the current law’s 1 percent annual increases aimed at reaching 10 percent in 2017.
Some of the biggest critics of LePage’s bill were wind power advocates, who say the state’s current energy policy has attracted $1 billion in investment over the past four years.
Rep. Jon Hinck, D-Portland, said LePage’s original proposal would “reverse our commitment to renewable energy and energy efficiency.”
But LePage insisted many of those jobs rely on taxpayer subsidies, and he said they’re not permanent.
“The majority of these ‘green jobs’ are temporary. In reality, these mandates and subsidies will result in a net loss of jobs and increase your electricity costs. It simply is not feasible to create jobs in industries that depend on government welfare and it is not a sustainable way to stimulate the economy,” he said.
The Legislature’s Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee discussed the bill on Friday and decided to rework the proposal, which comes up for debate again on Tuesday.
LePage has said Maine’s high energy costs are one of the biggest impediments to job creation. He said Saturday that Maine’s electricity costs are 42 percent higher than the national average.