State Senator Jim Boyle Proposes Legislation to Cut Energy Bills through Energy Efficiency
Statement by Dylan Voorhees, NRCM Clean Energy Project Director
“It is refreshing to see that Governor LePage now supports energy efficiency improvements as a key way to lower residential heating costs. Energy efficiency is our most cost-effective energy resource, and one we can control right here in Maine. Weatherization and energy efficient heating should be our top priority to help lower heating costs for Maine homes across the state, regardless of what fuel they use.
“The governor’s bill (LD 1425) doesn’t go far enough to support weatherization programs and home efficiency, however we could work together with the Administration to support using some of Maine’s RGGI funds for this purpose as the bill seems to suggest. Repeated independent analysis shows the reason RGGI has been so beneficial to Maine’s economy: because we’ve invested the proceeds into highly cost-effective energy efficiency.
“Unfortunately, by removing most of Maine’s RGGI funding from its use for energy efficiency, this bill as a whole would undermine Maine’s energy efficiency progress. The governor’s bill also cuts other sources of energy efficiency funding and would harm Efficiency Maine programs aimed specifically at helping some of Maine’s largest businesses reduce their energy costs.
“Because of these efficiency cuts, the bottom line is, Governor LePage’s energy legislation would increase Maine energy bills by more than $100 million.
“We strongly oppose any reduction in cost-effective energy efficiency investments, especially since the Maine Public Utilities Commission recently concluded that Maine ratepayers would be better off with more investments in efficiency.
“That’s why we applaud Senator Boyle for proposing a comprehensive bill (LD 1426) that maximizes the benefits of energy efficiency to cut costs and reduce energy waste. This bill would reduce energy costs in Maine by more than $200 million by fostering investments in cost-effective energy efficiency as approved by the Public Utilities Commission.
“Senator Boyle’s bill would also lower home heating costs beyond what is proposed by the governor’s bill, by leveraging RGGI funds to generate private sector contributions from the oil sector. These voluntary funds would be used to support proven weatherization and home efficiency programs. There is a lot of talk about switching from one fuel to another, but efficiency should be our foundation strategy, for all parts of Maine and regardless of what fuel you use.
“For some reason, the governor seems to believe that cutting efficiency programs would help attract businesses to Maine. That seems far-fetched. Besides, what about the businesses already in Maine? They deserve lower costs and higher profits from greater investments in efficiency. That’s good for them and our overall economy.
“We also oppose the Administration’s efforts to dilute the mission of Efficiency Maine or make its board of directors more political. In contrast, Senator Boyle’s bill would take some of the politics out of efficiency decisions, and focus more on what will lower costs for energy consumers.”