By Paul Merrill, WMTW Staff
AUGUSTA, Maine —Lawmakers still haven’t fixed a one-word typo in a bill that has to do with funding for energy-efficient programs.
Now, some are saying the mistake could mean almost a billion dollars to Maine energy consumers over the next 10 years.
For businesses like the Breathable Home, it’s all about certainty. Certainty that the Efficiency Maine Trust is going to have enough money to keep providing incentives to help homeowners do things like have their attics insulated.
Efficiency Maine is getting more funding, but the typo means that increase drops by $38 million.
If the typo isn’t fixed, business owners and environmental advocates estimate that almost $1 billion worth of energy is going to leak out of Maine attics, doors and windows over the next decade.
It’s bad for their business too of course.
“There was a lot of companies that took the risk to have their business models shaped around delivering Efficiency Maine programs. All those are going to go away,” Richard Burbank, with Evergreen Home Performance, said.
The omission of the word “and” grouped together two assets that were suppose to be treated separately.
Maine’s Public Utilities Commission interpreted the law as it was written.
“We’re creatures of the statute. Our job is to interpret the law, interpret the statute,” Mark Vannoy, PUC chairman, said.
On Thursday, Republicans nixed a proposal by Democrats to simply add the missing word.
“But it isn’t as simple as just grabbing a bottle of Wite-Out and inserting a word. We want to make sure that everybody that was involved has an opportunity to be heard before we make a decision as to how to proceed,” Republican Mike Thibodeau, the Senate president, said.
When asked if the bill is going to get passed the way it was originally intended, Rep. Ken Fredette said, “I think it’s a work in progress.”