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Governor’s Address: High energy costs kill jobs, harm the economy

I’ve been talking about energy costs since I became Governor, but most people don’t realize what high energy costs mean. Quite simply, they mean jobs.

Dear Maine Taxpayer,

The more companies have to pay in energy costs, the less money they have for higher salaries and new jobs. If we want to attract and retain high-paying career jobs, we need to make our electricity rates more competitive.

Democrats always say Maine has the lowest costs of electricity in New England. But Maine has the highest percentage of industrial electricity load of any state in New England. Even small changes in electricity prices hit our industries very hard.

A one-cent-per-kilowatt-hour increase in electric rates costs Maine an additional $120 million a year. That’s $120 million that does not go into salaries or new jobs. It does not go into the economy.

And yes, Maine may have the lowest electricity costs in New England—but Maine is not competing with New England. Maine companies are competing with states like Iowa, which has an all-in electricity rate of 5.9 cent-per-kilowatt-hour.

SAPPI has mills in Minnesota. Verso has mills in Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin. These are the states we are competing against in our forest products industry—not Rhode Island or Connecticut.

Other states have even lower industrial rates. Washington State has an all-in industrial price of 4.35 cent-per-kilowatt-hour. Louisiana is 5.41 cent-per-kilowatt-hour.

Maine is simply not competitive against those states. Even worse, Maine is at a major disadvantage when it comes to subsidies and policies to promote renewable energy and wealthy special interests. They are driving up our costs.

Compared to subsidies per million BTU for oil, natural gas, hydro and nuclear energy, the subsidies for solar energy are off the chart.

Yet Democrats and special interests still promote above-market contracts for solar energy. According to CMP, over the past 30 years, it has spent more than $2 billion for above-market contracts due to state policies promoting renewables.

The last 5 years, Maine has spent over $70 million just on the Renewable Portfolio Standard. But the percentage of renewable-energy generation in Maine compared to the electrical consumption has barely changed since 1990.

The math just doesn’t add up. These policies are dragging down our economy, killing jobs and making Maine less competitive every day.

Let me be clear. I’m not against renewable energy. I am agnostic to whatever form of energy we use.

But it must be the form of energy that is the most affordable and does the least harm to the environment.

These are policies we just cannot afford to continue. Please contact your legislator and urge them to reduce energy costs so our companies can create good-paying jobs.

Thank You,

Paul R. LePage


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